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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C.  20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

 

Annual Report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 30, 2018

 

or

 

 

 

Transition report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

 

For the transition period from                                            to                                          

 

Commission File Number:  0-21660

 

PAPA JOHN’S INTERNATIONAL, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware

 

61-1203323

(State or other jurisdiction of

 

(I.R.S. Employer

incorporation or organization)

 

Identification No.)

 

 

2002 Papa John’s Boulevard

 

 

Louisville, Kentucky

 

40299-2367

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

(502) 261-7272

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)


 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

(Title of Each Class)

 

(Name of each exchange on which registered)

Common Stock, $0.01 par value

 

The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None


 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes ☒  No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.  Yes ☐  No ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes ☒  No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).  Yes ☒  No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer ☒

 

Accelerated filer ☐

Non-accelerated filer   ☐

 

Smaller reporting company ☐

Emerging growth company ☐

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the Registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).  Yes ☐  No ☒

 

 

The aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, computed by reference to the closing sale price on The NASDAQ Stock Market as of the last business day of the Registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, July 1, 2018, was $1,120,697,454.

 

As of March 4, 2019, there were 31,642,269 shares of the Registrant’s common stock outstanding.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

 

Portions of Part III of this annual report are incorporated by reference to the Registrant’s Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held April 30, 2019.

 

 

 

 


 

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

    

Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART I 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1. 

 

Business

 

3

 

Item 1A. 

 

Risk Factors

 

13

 

Item 1B. 

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

26

 

Item 2. 

 

Properties

 

26

 

Item 3. 

 

Legal Proceedings

 

29

 

Item 4. 

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5. 

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

31

 

Item 6. 

 

Selected Financial Data

 

33

 

Item 7. 

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

35

 

Item 7A. 

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

58

 

Item 8. 

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

61

 

Item 9. 

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

107

 

Item 9A. 

 

Controls and Procedures

 

108

 

Item 9B. 

 

Other Information

 

108

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART III 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10. 

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

109

 

Item 11. 

 

Executive Compensation

 

109

 

Item 12. 

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

109

 

Item 13. 

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

109

 

Item 14. 

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

110

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15. 

 

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

 

110

 

 

 

 

 

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PART I

 

Item 1.  Business

 

General

 

Papa John’s International, Inc., a Delaware corporation (referred to as the “Company”, “Papa John’s” or in the first person notations of “we”, “us” and “our”), operates and franchises pizza delivery and carryout restaurants and, in certain international markets, dine-in and delivery restaurants under the trademark “Papa John’s”.  Papa John’s began operations in 1984.  At December 30, 2018, there were 5,303 Papa John’s restaurants in operation, consisting of 645 Company-owned and 4,658 franchised restaurants operating domestically in all 50 states and in 46 countries and territories. Our Company-owned restaurants include 183 restaurants operated under three joint venture arrangements.

 

Papa John’s has defined four reportable segments: domestic Company-owned restaurants, North America commissaries (Quality Control Centers), North America franchising and international operations. North America is defined as the United States and Canada. Domestic is defined as the contiguous United States. International franchisees are defined as all franchise operations outside of the United States and Canada. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Note 22” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for financial information about our segments.

 

All of our periodic and current reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), are available, free of charge, through our website located at www.papajohns.com.  These reports include our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports. These reports are available through our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file them with the SEC. We also make available free of charge on our website our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Board Committee Charters, and our Code of Ethics, which applies to Papa John’s directors, officers and employees. Printed copies of such documents are also available free of charge upon written request to Investor Relations, Papa John’s International, Inc., P.O. Box 99900, Louisville, KY 40269-0900. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC, including us, at www.sec.gov. The references to these website addresses do not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained on the websites, which should not be considered part of this document.

 

2018 Business Matters

 

We have experienced negative publicity and consumer sentiment as a result of statements by the Company’s founder and former spokesperson John H. Schnatter in late 2017 and in July 2018, which contributed to our negative sales results in 2018.  Mr. Schnatter resigned as Chairman of the Board on July 11, 2018, the same day that the media reported certain controversial statements made by Mr. Schnatter.  A Special Committee of the Board of Directors consisting of all of the independent directors (the “Special Committee”) was formed on July 15, 2018 to evaluate and take action with respect to all of the Company’s relationships and arrangements with Mr. Schnatter.  In addition, on July 27, 2018, the Company announced that the Board’s Lead Independent Director, Olivia F. Kirtley, had been unanimously appointed by the Board of Directors to serve as Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors.  Following its formation, the Special Committee terminated Mr. Schnatter’s Founder Agreement, which defined his role in the Company, among other things, as advertising and brand spokesperson for the Company. The Special Committee, among other things, oversaw the previously announced external audit and investigation of all the Company’s existing processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion, supplier and vendor engagement and Papa John’s culture, which is substantially complete. The Special Committee has delivered recommendations resulting from the audit to Company management, who will implement the recommendations, including initiatives and training regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  The Company is also implementing various branding and marketing initiatives, including a new advertising and marketing campaign. 

In September 2018, the Company began a process to evaluate a wide range of strategic options with the goal of improving sales, maximizing value for all shareholders and serving the best interest of the Company’s stakeholders. As part of this strategic review, the Special Committee also engaged legal and financial advisors. After extensive discussions with a wide group of strategic and financial investors, the Special Committee concluded that an investment agreement with funds

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affiliated with Starboard Value LP (together with its affiliates, “Starboard”) was in the best interest of shareholders. On February 3, 2019, the Company entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement (the “Securities Purchase Agreement”) with Starboard pursuant to which Starboard made a $200 million strategic investment in the Company’s newly designated Series B convertible preferred stock, par value $0.01 per share (the “Series B Preferred Stock”), with the option to make an additional $50 million investment in the Series B Preferred Stock through March 29, 2019. In addition, the Company has the right to offer up to 10,000 shares of Series B Preferred Stock to Papa John’s franchisees, on the same terms as to Starboard, provided such franchisees satisfy accredited investor and other requirements of the offering under securities laws.

The Company will use approximately half of the proceeds from the sale of the Series B Preferred Stock to reduce the outstanding principal amount under the Company’s unsecured revolving credit facility.  The remaining proceeds are expected to be used to make investments in the business and for general corporate purposes.

In connection with Starboard’s investment, the Company expanded its Board of Directors to include two new independent directors, Jeffrey C. Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Starboard, who was appointed Chairman of the Board, and Anthony M. Sanfilippo, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. The Board of Directors believes Mr. Smith’s business expertise and new perspectives will help support the Company’s strategy to capitalize on its differentiated “BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.” market position and build a better pizza company for the benefit of its shareholders, team members, franchisees and customers. In addition, the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Steve Ritchie, has been appointed to the Board. With the addition of the new directors, the Board currently is comprised of nine directors, seven of whom are independent.

 

Comparable Sales Trends.  For the period from December 31, 2018 to January 31, 2019, system-wide North America comparable sales decreased 10.5% and system-wide International comparable sales were flat.  The Company believes the disparity in North America and International comparable sales reflects the consumer sentiment challenges the brand has encountered in the United States.  The Company is implementing various brand initiatives, including a new advertising and marketing campaign, in an effort to reverse the negative North America sales trend.  However, the Company cannot predict whether or how long the negative sales trend will continue.

 

Special Charges.  The Company also incurred significant costs (defined as “Special charges”) as a result of the above-mentioned recent events in the second half of 2018. We incurred $50.7 million of Special charges as follows:

 

·

franchise royalty reductions of approximately $15.4 million for all North America franchisees,

·

reimaging costs at nearly all domestic restaurants and replacement or write off of certain branded assets totaling $5.8 million,

·

contribution of $10.0 million to the Papa John’s National Marketing Fund (“PJMF”), and

·

legal and professional fees, which amounted to $19.5 million, for various matters relating to the review of a wide range of strategic opportunities for the Company that culminated in the recent strategic investment in the Company by affiliates of Starboard, as well as a previously announced external culture audit and other activities overseen by the Special Committee. 

 

The Company estimates that these costs will amount to between $30 million and $50 million for 2019.    

 

Following these events in 2018, we became a party to litigation, including class action securities litigation and litigation with Mr. Schnatter. See Item 1A. Risk Factors and “Note 19” to the “Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information regarding these and other lawsuits.

 

Strategy

 

Early in 2018, we outlined five strategic priorities to improve upon the execution of the Company’s strategy, including:

 

·

People:  Focus on making people a priority with advanced career opportunities and more efficient restaurant procedures to support improved recruitment and retention.

·

Brand differentiation messaging:  Develop improved marketing messaging that highlights our quality products and ingredients.

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·

Value perception:  Provide everyday accessible value to consumers.

·

Technological advancements:  Promote technological advancements with enhanced data and analytics capabilities.

·

Restaurant unit economics:  Invest further in our restaurants to operate more efficiently while improving the customer experience.

 

We believe investments in these areas will provide the enhanced focus and support necessary to achieve our goal to build brand loyalty over the long-term by delivering on our “BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.” promise.  Despite our recent brand challenges, we believe we are recognized as a trusted brand and quality leader in the domestic pizza category, and we believe focusing on these areas will enable us to build our brand on a global basis and increase sales and global units.    

 

High-Quality Menu Offerings. Our menu strategy focuses on the quality of our ingredients.  Domestic Papa John’s restaurants offer high-quality pizza along with side items, including breadsticks, cheesesticks, chicken poppers and wings, dessert items and canned or bottled beverages. Papa John’s original crust pizza is prepared using fresh dough (never frozen).  Papa John’s pizzas are made from a proprietary blend of wheat flour; real cheese made from mozzarella; fresh-packed pizza sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes (not from concentrate) and a proprietary mix of savory spices; and a choice of high-quality meat and vegetable toppings. Our original and pan dough crust pizza is delivered with a container of our special garlic sauce and a pepperoncini pepper. In addition to our fresh dough pizzas, we offer a par-baked thin crust and a gluten free crust. Each is served with a pepperoncini pepper.  We have a continuing “clean label” initiative to remove unwanted ingredients from our product offerings over the next few years, such as synthetic colors, artificial flavors and preservatives.

 

We also offer limited-time pizzas on a regular basis and expect to expand these offerings in 2019. We also test new product offerings both domestically and internationally. The new products can become a part of the permanent menu if they meet certain internally established guidelines.

 

All ingredients and toppings can be purchased by our Company-owned and franchised restaurants from our North American Quality Control Center (“QC Center”) system, which delivers to individual restaurants twice weekly. To ensure consistent food quality, each domestic franchisee is required to purchase dough and pizza sauce from our QC Centers and to purchase all other supplies from our QC Centers or other approved suppliers. Internationally, the menu may be more diverse than in our domestic operations to meet local tastes and customs. Most QC Centers outside the U.S. are operated by franchisees pursuant to license agreements or by other third parties. The Company currently operates only one international QC Center, which is in the United Kingdom (“UK”).   Our China QC Center was sold to a franchisee in 2018 and our QC Center in Mexico City was sold to a franchisee in early 2019.  We provide significant assistance to licensed QC Centers in sourcing approved quality suppliers. All QC Centers are required to meet food safety and quality standards and to be in compliance with all applicable laws.

 

Efficient Operating System. We believe our operating and distribution systems, restaurant layout and designated delivery areas result in improved food quality and customer service as well as lower restaurant operating costs. Our QC Center system takes advantage of volume purchasing of food and supplies. The QC Center system also provides consistency and efficiencies of scale in fresh dough production. This eliminates the need for each restaurant to order food from multiple vendors and commit substantial labor and other resources to dough preparation. 

 

Commitment to Team Member Training and Development. We are committed to the development and motivation of our team members through training programs, including our leadership development programs, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives and training, incentive and recognition programs and opportunities for advancement. Team member training programs are conducted for Company-owned restaurant team members, and operational training is offered to our franchisees. We offer performance-based financial incentives to corporate team members and restaurant managers. 

 

Marketing.  Our branding efforts seek to showcase the values of the Company and its team members.  We evaluate marketing investments with respect to their ability to activate and accelerate positive consumer sentiment, utilizing campaigns that spotlight the Company’s differentiated focus on quality, better ingredients and better pizza.

 

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Our domestic marketing strategy consists of both national and local components. Our national strategy includes national advertising via television, print, direct mail, digital, mobile marketing and social media channels. Our digital marketing activities have increased significantly over the past several years in response to increasing customer use of online and mobile web technology. Local advertising programs include television, radio, print, direct mail, store-to-door flyers, digital, mobile marketing and local social media channels. See “Marketing Programs” below, which describes more local marketing programs.

 

In international markets, our marketing focuses on reaching customers who live or work within a small radius of a Papa John’s restaurant. Our international markets use a combination of advertising strategies, including television, radio, print, digital, mobile marketing and local social media depending on the size of the local market.

 

Technology. We use technology to deliver a better customer experience, focusing on key strategies that offer benefits to the customer as well as advancing our objectives of higher customer lifetime value and deeper brand affinity.

 

Our technology initiatives build on our past milestones, which include the introduction of digital ordering across all our U.S. delivery restaurants in 2001 and the launch of a domestic digital rewards program in 2010.  In 2018, over 60% of domestic sales were placed through digital channels.  Technology investments have included enhanced digital ordering and expanded mobile app capabilities.  As we continue to enhance our digital capabilities, we have focused on technology investments that allow us to use data to target marketing programs to individual customers as well as customer segments.  In late 2018, we relaunched our digital rewards program with enhanced targeted marketing capabilities.

 

Franchise System. We are committed to developing and maintaining a strong franchise system by attracting experienced operators, supporting them to expand and grow their business and monitoring their compliance with our high standards. We seek to attract and retain franchisees with experience in restaurant or retail operations and with the financial resources and management capability to open single or multiple locations. While each Papa John’s franchisee manages and operates its own restaurants and business, we devote significant resources to providing franchisees with assistance in restaurant operations, training, marketing, site selection and restaurant design. 

 

Our strategy for global franchise unit growth focuses on our sound unit economics model. We strive to eliminate barriers to expansion in existing international markets, and identify new market opportunities. Our growth strategy varies based on the maturity and penetration of the market and other factors in specific domestic and international markets, with overall unit growth expected to come increasingly from international markets.

 

Restaurant Sales and Investment Costs

 

We are committed to maintaining sound restaurant unit economics. In 2018, the 637 domestic Company-owned restaurants included in the full year’s comparable restaurant base generated average annual unit sales of $1.07 million.  Our North American franchise restaurants, which included 2,396 restaurants in the full year’s comparable base for 2018, generated average annual unit sales of $840,000. Average annual unit sales for North American franchise restaurants are lower than those of Company-owned restaurants as a higher percentage of our Company-owned restaurants are located in more heavily penetrated markets.

 

With only a few exceptions, domestic restaurants do not offer dine-in service, which reduces our restaurant capital investment. The average cash investment for the six domestic traditional Company-owned restaurants opened during 2018, exclusive of land, was approximately $345,000 per unit, compared to the $354,000 investment for the 12 domestic traditional units opened in 2017, excluding tenant allowances that we received. In recent years, we have experienced an increase in the cost of our new restaurants primarily as a result of building larger units and incurring higher costs of certain equipment as a result of technology enhancements and increased costs to comply with applicable regulations.

 

We define a “traditional” domestic Papa John’s restaurant as a delivery and carryout unit that services a defined trade area. We consider the location of a traditional restaurant to be important and therefore devote significant resources to the investigation and evaluation of potential sites. The site selection process includes a review of trade area demographics, target population density and competitive factors.  A member of our development team inspects each potential domestic Company-owned restaurant location and substantially all franchised restaurant locations before a site is approved. Papa

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John’s restaurants are typically located in strip shopping centers or freestanding buildings that provide visibility, curb appeal and accessibility. Our restaurant design can be configured to fit a wide variety of building shapes and sizes, which increases the number of suitable locations for our Company-owned and franchised restaurants. A typical traditional domestic Papa John’s restaurant averages 1,100 to 1,500 square feet with visible exterior signage.

 

“Non-traditional” Papa John’s restaurants generally do not provide delivery service but rather provide walk-up or carryout service to a captive customer group within a designated facility, such as a food court at an airport, university or military base or an event-driven service at facilities such as sports stadiums or entertainment venues. Non-traditional units are designed to fit the unique requirements of the venue and may not offer the full range of menu items available in our traditional restaurants.

 

As of December 30, 2018, all of our international restaurants are franchised. Generally, our international Papa John’s restaurants are slightly smaller than our domestic restaurants and average between 900 and 1,400 square feet; however, in order to meet certain local customer preferences, some international restaurants have been opened in larger spaces to accommodate both dine-in and restaurant-based delivery service, ranging from 35 to 140 seats.

 

Development

 

At December 30, 2018, there were 5,303 Papa John’s restaurants operating in all 50 states and in 46 international countries and territories, as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic Company-owned

Franchised North America

Total North America

International

System-wide

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning - December 31, 2017

708

2,733

3,441

1,758

5,199

Opened

 6

83

89

304

393

Closed

(7)

(186)

(193)

(96)

(289)

Acquired

 -

62

62

34

96

Sold

(62)

 -

(62)

(34)

(96)

Ending - December 30, 2018

645

2,692

3,337

1,966

5,303

 

Although most of our domestic Company-owned markets are well-penetrated, our Company-owned growth strategy is to continue to open domestic restaurants in existing markets as appropriate, thereby increasing consumer awareness and enabling us to take advantage of operational and marketing efficiencies. Our experience in developing markets indicates that market penetration through the opening of multiple restaurants in a particular market results in increased average restaurant sales in that market over time. We have co-developed domestic markets with some franchisees or divided markets among franchisees and will continue to utilize market co-development in the future, where appropriate.

 

Of the total 3,337 North American restaurants open as of December 30, 2018, 645 units, or approximately 19%, were Company-owned (including 183 restaurants owned in joint venture arrangements with franchisees in which the Company has a majority ownership position and control). Operating Company-owned restaurants allows us to improve operations, training, marketing and quality standards for the benefit of the entire system.  From time to time, we evaluate the purchase or sale of units or markets, which could change the percentage of Company-owned units.  During 2018, we sold 62 restaurants located in Denver, Colorado and in Minnesota, in each case to a franchise group.

 

All of the 1,966 international restaurants are franchised after the 2018 sale of the Company’s 34 restaurants located in Beijing and North China. 

 

QC Center System and Supply Chain Management

 

Our North American QC Center system currently comprises 11 full-service regional production and distribution centers in the U.S which supply pizza sauce, dough, food products, paper products, smallwares and cleaning supplies twice weekly to each traditional restaurant served. Additionally, we have one QC Center in Canada, which produces and distributes fresh dough.  This system enables us to monitor and control product quality and consistency while lowering food and other

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costs. We evaluate the QC Center system capacity in relation to existing restaurants’ volumes and planned restaurant growth, and facilities are developed or upgraded as operational or economic conditions warrant.

 

In addition, we currently own a full-service international QC Center in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. Other international QC Centers are licensed to franchisees or non-franchisee third parties and are generally located in the markets where our franchisees have restaurants.

 

We set quality standards for all products used in Papa John’s restaurants and designate approved outside suppliers of food and paper products that meet our quality standards.  To ensure product quality and consistency, all domestic Papa John’s restaurants are required to purchase pizza sauce and dough from QC Centers. Franchisees may purchase other goods directly from our QC Centers or other approved suppliers. National purchasing agreements with most of our suppliers generally result in volume discounts to us, allowing us to sell products to our restaurants at prices we believe are below those generally available to other restaurants. Within our North American QC Center system, products are primarily distributed to restaurants by leased refrigerated trucks operated by us.

 

Marketing Programs

 

Our local restaurant-level marketing programs target potential customers within the delivery area of each restaurant through the use of local television, radio, print materials, targeted direct mail, store-to-door flyers, digital display advertising, email marketing, text messages and local social media. Local marketing efforts also include a variety of community-oriented activities within schools, sports venues and other organizations supported with some of the same advertising vehicles mentioned above.  We recently began working with delivery aggregators to reach other customer channels and also enhanced our domestic loyalty program at the end of 2018.

 

Domestic Company-owned and franchised Papa John’s restaurants within a defined market may be required to join an area advertising cooperative (“Co-op”). Each member restaurant contributes a percentage of sales to the Co-op for market-wide programs, such as television, radio, digital and print advertising, and sports sponsorships. The rate of contribution and uses of the monies collected are determined by a majority vote of the Co-op’s members. The contribution rate for Co-ops generally may not be below 2% of sales without approval from Papa John’s.

 

The restaurant-level and Co-op marketing efforts are supported by media, print, digital and electronic advertising materials that are produced by Papa John’s Marketing Fund, Inc. (“PJMF”). PJMF is an unconsolidated nonstock corporation designed to operate at break-even for the purpose of designing and administering advertising and promotional programs for all participating domestic restaurants. PJMF produces and buys air time for Papa John’s national television commercials, and advertises the Company’s products through digital media including banner advertising, paid search-engine advertising, mobile marketing, social media advertising and marketing, text messaging, and emailing.  It also engages in other brand-building activities, such as consumer research and public relations activities. Domestic Company-owned and franchised Papa John’s restaurants are required to contribute a certain minimum percentage of sales to PJMF.  The contribution rate to PJMF can be set at up to 3% of sales, if approved by the governing board of PJMF, and beyond that level if approved by a supermajority of domestic restaurants. The domestic franchise system approved a new contribution rate of 4.50% effective in the fourth quarter of 2017. The rate increased an additional 0.25% to 4.75% effective at the beginning of 2019. 

 

Our proprietary domestic digital ordering platform allows customers to order online, including “plan ahead ordering,” Apple TV ordering and Spanish-language ordering capability.  Digital payment platforms include VISA Checkout, PayPal, and Venmo PayShare.  We provide enhanced mobile ordering for our customers, including Papa John’s iPhone® and Android® applications. Our Papa Rewards® program is a customer loyalty program designed to increase loyalty and frequency; we offer this program domestically, in the UK, and in several international markets. We receive a percentage-based fee from North American franchisees for online sales, in addition to royalties, to defray development and operating costs associated with our digital ordering platform.  We believe continued innovation and investment in the design and functionality of our online and mobile platforms is critical to the success of our brand.

 

Our domestic restaurants offer customers the opportunity to purchase reloadable gift cards, sold as either a plastic gift card purchased in our restaurants, or an online digital card. Gift cards are sold to customers on our website, through third-party

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retailers, and in bulk to business entities and organizations. We continue to explore other gift card distribution opportunities. Gift cards may be redeemed for delivery, carryout, and digital orders and are accepted at all Papa John’s traditional domestic restaurants.

 

We provide both Company-owned and franchised restaurants with pre-approved marketing materials and catalogs for the purchase of promotional items. We also provide direct marketing services to Company-owned and domestic franchised restaurants using customer information gathered by our proprietary point-of-sale technology (see “Company Operations —North America Point-of-Sale Technology”). In addition, we provide database tools, templates and training for operators to facilitate local email marketing and text messaging through our approved tools.

 

In international markets, our marketing focuses on customers who live or work within a small radius of a Papa John’s restaurant. Certain markets can effectively use television and radio as part of their marketing strategies. The majority of the marketing efforts include using print materials such as flyers, newspaper inserts, in-store marketing materials, and to a growing extent, digital marketing such as display, search engine marketing, social media, mobile marketing, email, and text messaging. Local marketing efforts, such as sponsoring or participating in community events, sporting events and school programs, are also used to build customer awareness.

 

Company Operations

 

Domestic Restaurant Personnel.  A typical Papa John’s Company-owned domestic restaurant employs a restaurant manager and approximately 20 to 25 hourly team members, many of whom work part-time. The manager is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the restaurant and maintaining Company-established operating standards. We seek to hire experienced restaurant managers and staff and provide comprehensive training programs in areas such as operations and managerial skills. We also employ directors of operations who are responsible for overseeing an average of seven Company-owned restaurants. Senior management and corporate staff also support the field teams in many areas, including, but not limited to, quality assurance, food safety, training, marketing and technology. We seek to motivate and retain personnel by providing opportunities for advancement and performance-based financial incentives.

 

Training and Education. We believe training is very important to delivering consistent operational execution, and we create tools and materials for the operational training and development of both corporate and franchise team members.  Operations personnel complete our management training program and ongoing development programs, including multi-unit training, in which instruction is given on all aspects of our systems and operations.

 

North America Point-of-Sale Technology. Our proprietary point-of-sale technology, “FOCUS”, is in place in all North America traditional Papa John’s restaurants. We believe this technology facilitates fast and accurate order-taking and pricing, and allows the restaurant manager to better monitor and control food and labor costs, including food inventory management and order placement from QC Centers. The system allows us to obtain restaurant operating information, providing us with timely access to sales and customer information. The FOCUS system is also integrated with our digital ordering solutions in all North American traditional Papa John’s restaurants.

 

Domestic Hours of Operation.  Our domestic restaurants are open seven days a week, typically from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 12:00 noon to 11:30 p.m. on Sunday. Carryout hours are generally more limited for late night service, for security purposes.

 

Franchise Program

 

General. We continue to attract qualified and experienced franchisees, whom we consider to be a vital part of our system’s continued growth.  We believe our relationship with our franchisees is fundamental to the performance of our brand and we strive to maintain a collaborative relationship with our franchisees.  As of December 30, 2018, there were 4,658 franchised Papa John’s restaurants operating in all 50 states and 46 countries and territories.  During 2018, our franchisees opened an additional 387 (83 North America and 304 internationally) restaurants, which includes the opening of Papa John’s restaurants in three new countries: the Bahamas, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.  As of December 30, 2018, we have development agreements with our franchisees for approximately 130 additional North America restaurants, the majority of which are committed to open over the next two years, and agreements for approximately 900 additional international franchised restaurants, the majority of which are scheduled to open over the next six years. There can be no assurance that

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all of these restaurants will be opened or that the development schedules set forth in the development agreements will be achieved.

 

Approval. Franchisees are approved on the basis of the applicant’s business background, restaurant operating experience and financial resources. We seek franchisees to enter into development agreements for single or multiple restaurants. We require each franchisee to complete our training program or to hire a full-time operator who completes the training and has either an equity interest or the right to acquire an equity interest in the franchise operation. For most non-traditional operations and for operations outside the United States, we will allow an approved operator bonus plan to substitute for the equity interest.

 

North America Development and Franchise Agreements. We enter into development agreements with our franchisees in North America for the opening of a specified number of restaurants within a defined period of time and specified geographic area. Our standard domestic development agreement includes a fee of $25,000 before consideration of any incentives. The franchise agreement is generally executed once a franchisee secures a location. Our current standard franchise agreement requires the franchisee to pay a royalty fee of 5% of sales, and the majority of our existing franchised restaurants have a 5% contractual royalty rate in effect. Incentives offered from time to time, including new store incentives, will reduce the actual royalty rate paid. Incentives in effect in the later part of 2018 to support the franchise system included a royalty reduction of 2% and 1% for the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

 

Over the past several years, we have offered various development incentive programs for domestic franchisees to accelerate unit openings. Such incentives included the following for 2018 traditional openings: (1) waiver of the standard one-time $25,000 franchise fee if the unit opens on time in accordance with the agreed-upon development schedule, or a reduced fee of $5,000 if the unit opens late; (2) the waiver of some or all of the 5% royalty fee for a period of time; (3) a credit for new store equipment; and (4) a credit to be applied toward a future food purchase, under certain circumstances. We believe development incentive programs have accelerated unit openings.

 

Substantially all existing franchise agreements have an initial 10-year term with a 10-year renewal option. We have the right to terminate a franchise agreement for a variety of reasons, including a franchisee’s failure to make payments when due or failure to adhere to our operational policies and standards. Many state franchise laws limit our ability as a franchisor to terminate or refuse to renew a franchise.

 

We provide assistance to Papa John’s franchisees in selecting sites, developing restaurants and evaluating the physical specifications for typical restaurants. We provide layout and design services and recommendations for subcontractors, signage installers and telephone systems to Papa John’s franchisees. Our franchisees can purchase complete new store equipment packages through an approved third-party supplier. We sell replacement smallwares and related items to our franchisees.  Each franchisee is responsible for selecting the location for its restaurants, but must obtain our approval of the restaurant design and location based on traffic accessibility and visibility of the site and targeted demographic factors, including population density, income, age and traffic.

 

Domestic Franchise Support Initiatives. In 2018, we have increased our franchise support initiatives in light of the current sales pressures by providing additional royalty reductions of 2% and 1% in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. Historically, discretionary support initiatives to our domestic franchisees, included the following:

 

·

Performance-based incentives;

·

Targeted royalty relief and local marketing support to assist certain identified franchisees or markets;

·

Restaurant opening incentives; and

·

Reduced-cost direct mail campaigns from Preferred Marketing Solutions (“Preferred”), our wholly owned print and promotions subsidiary.

 

In 2019, we plan to offer some or all of these domestic franchise support initiatives, with a particular focus of providing assistance to franchisees in emerging and/or high cost markets.

 

International Development and Franchise Agreements.  We define “international” as all markets outside the United States and Canada.  In international markets, we have either a development agreement or a master franchise agreement with a

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franchisee for the opening of a specified number of restaurants within a defined period of time and specified geographic area. Under a master franchise agreement, the franchisee has the right to sub-franchise a portion of the development to one or more sub-franchisees approved by us. Under our current standard international development or master franchise agreement, the franchisee is required to pay total fees of $25,000 per restaurant: $5,000 at the time of signing the agreement and $20,000 when the restaurant opens or on the agreed-upon development date, whichever comes first. Additionally, under our current standard master franchise agreement, the master franchisee is required to pay $15,000 for each sub-franchised restaurant — $5,000 at the time of signing the agreement and $10,000 when the restaurant opens or on the agreed-upon development date, whichever comes first.

 

Our current standard international master franchise and development agreements provide for payment to us of a royalty fee of 5% of sales. For international markets with sub-franchise agreements, the effective sub-franchise royalty received by the Company is generally 3% of sales and the master franchisee generally receives a royalty of 2% of sales. The remaining terms applicable to the operation of individual restaurants are substantially equivalent to the terms of our domestic franchise agreement. Development agreements will be negotiated at other-than-standard terms for fees and royalties, and we may offer various development and royalty incentives to help drive net unit growth and results.

 

Non-traditional Restaurant Development. We had 247 non-traditional domestic restaurants at December 30, 2018. Non-traditional restaurants generally cover venues or areas not originally targeted for traditional unit development, and our franchised non-traditional restaurants have terms differing from the standard agreements.

 

Franchisee Loans. Selected domestic and international franchisees have borrowed funds from us, principally for the purchase of restaurants from us or other franchisees or for construction and development of new restaurants. Loans made to franchisees can bear interest at fixed or floating rates and in most cases are secured by the fixtures, equipment and signage of the restaurant and/or are guaranteed by the franchise owners. At December 30, 2018, net loans outstanding totaled $28.8 million. See “Note 13” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.

 

Domestic Franchise Training and Support. Our domestic field support structure consists of franchise business directors who are responsible for serving an average of 165 franchised units each. Our franchise business directors maintain open communication with the franchise community, relaying operating and marketing information and new initiatives between franchisees and us.

 

Every franchisee is required to have a principal operator approved by us who satisfactorily completes our required training program. Principal operators for traditional restaurants are required to devote their full business time and efforts to the operation of the franchisee’s traditional restaurants. Each franchised restaurant manager is also required to complete our Company-certified management operations training program and we monitor ongoing compliance with training. Multi-unit franchisees are encouraged to appoint training store general managers or hire a full-time training coordinator certified to deliver Company-approved operational training programs.

 

International Franchise Operations Support. We employ or contract with international business directors who are responsible for supporting one or more franchisees. The international business directors usually report to regional vice presidents. Senior management and corporate staff also support the international field teams in many areas, including, but not limited to, food safety, quality assurance, marketing, technology, operations training and financial analysis.

 

Franchise Operations. All franchisees are required to operate their Papa John’s restaurants in compliance with our policies, standards and specifications, including matters such as menu items, ingredients, and restaurant design. Franchisees have full discretion in human resource practices, and generally have full discretion to determine the prices to be charged to customers, but we generally have the authority to set maximum price points for nationally advertised promotions.

 

Franchise Advisory Council. We have a franchise advisory council that consists of Company and franchisee representatives of domestic restaurants. We also have a franchise advisory council in the United Kingdom. The various councils and subcommittees hold regular meetings to discuss new product and marketing ideas, operations, growth and other business issues. Certain domestic franchisees have also formed an independent franchise association for the purpose of communicating and addressing issues, needs and opportunities among its members.

 

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We currently communicate with, and receive input from, our franchisees in several forms, including through the various councils, annual operations conferences, system communications, national conference calls, various regional meetings conducted with franchisees throughout the year and ongoing communications from franchise business directors and international business directors in the field. Monthly webcasts are also conducted by the Company to discuss current operational, marketing and other issues affecting the domestic franchisees’ business. We are committed to communicating with our franchisees and receiving input from them.

 

Industry and Competition

 

The United States Quick Service Restaurant pizza (“QSR Pizza”) industry is mature and highly competitive with respect to price, service, location, food quality, customer loyalty programs and product innovation. There are well-established competitors with substantially greater financial and other resources than Papa John’s. The category is largely fragmented and competitors include international, national and regional chains, as well as a large number of local independent pizza operators, any of which can utilize a growing number of food delivery services.  Some of our competitors have been in existence for substantially longer periods than Papa John’s and can have higher levels of restaurant penetration and stronger, more developed brand awareness in markets where we compete. According to industry sources, domestic QSR Pizza category sales, which includes dine-in, carry out and delivery, totaled approximately $37 billion in 2018, or an increase of 2.0% from the prior year.  Competition from delivery aggregators and other food delivery concepts continues to increase both domestically and internationally.

 

With respect to the sale of franchises, we compete with many franchisors of restaurants and other business concepts. There is also active competition for management personnel, drivers and hourly team members, and attractive commercial real estate sites suitable for Papa John’s restaurants.

 

Government Regulation

 

We, along with our franchisees, are subject to various federal, state, local and international laws affecting the operation of our respective businesses, including laws and regulations related to the preparation and sale of food, including food safety and menu labeling. Each Papa John’s restaurant is subject to licensing and regulation by a number of governmental authorities, which include zoning, health, safety, sanitation, building and fire agencies in the state or municipality in which the restaurant is located. Difficulties in obtaining, or the failure to obtain, required licenses or approvals could delay or prevent the opening of a new restaurant in a particular area. Our QC Centers are licensed and subject to regulation by state and local health and fire codes, and the operation of our trucks is subject to federal and state transportation regulations. We are also subject to federal and state environmental regulations. In addition, our domestic operations are subject to various federal and state laws governing such matters as minimum wage requirements, benefits, working conditions, citizenship requirements, and overtime.

 

We are subject to Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) regulation and various state laws regulating the offer and sale of franchises. The laws of several states also regulate substantive aspects of the franchisor-franchisee relationship. The FTC requires us to furnish to prospective franchisees a franchise disclosure document containing prescribed information. State laws that regulate the franchisor-franchisee relationship presently exist in a significant number of states, and bills have been introduced in Congress from time to time that would provide for federal regulation of the U.S. franchisor-franchisee relationship in certain respects if such bills were enacted. State laws often limit, among other things, the duration and scope of non-competition provisions and the ability of a franchisor to terminate or refuse to renew a franchise. Some foreign countries also have disclosure requirements and other laws regulating franchising and the franchisor-franchisee relationship. National, state and local government regulations or initiatives, including health care legislation, “living wage,” or other current or proposed regulations, and increases in minimum wage rates affect Papa John’s as well as others within the restaurant industry. As we expand internationally, we are also subject to applicable laws in each jurisdiction.

 

We are subject to laws and regulations that require us to disclose calorie content and other specific content of our food, including fat, trans fat, and salt content. A provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) requires us and many restaurant companies to disclose calorie information on restaurant menus. The Food and Drug Administration issued final rules to implement this provision, which require restaurants to post the number of calories for most items on menus or menu boards and to make available certain other nutritional information. Government regulation

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of nutrition disclosure could result in increased costs of compliance and could also impact consumer habits in a way that adversely impacts sales at our restaurants. For further information regarding governmental regulation, see Item 1A. Risk Factors.

 

Trademarks, Copyrights and Domain Names

 

Our intellectual property rights are a significant part of our business. We have registered and continue to maintain federal registrations through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”) for the marks PAPA JOHN’S, PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S & Design (our logo), BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA., PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA., PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA. & Design, and PAPA REWARDS.  We also own federal registrations through the USPTO for several ancillary marks, principally advertising slogans. Moreover, we have registrations for and/or have applied for PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S & Design in more than 100 foreign countries and the European Community, in addition to international registrations for PAPA JOHN’S and PIZZA PAPA JOHN’S BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA. & Design in various foreign countries.  From time to time, we are made aware of the use by other persons in certain geographical areas of names and marks that are the same as or substantially similar to our marks. It is our policy to pursue registration of our marks whenever possible and to vigorously oppose any infringement of our marks.

 

We hold copyrights in authored works used in our business, including advertisements, packaging, training, website, and promotional materials. In addition, we have registered and maintain Internet domain names, including “papajohns.com,” and approximately 83 country code domains patterned as papajohns.cc, or a close variation thereof, with “.cc” representing a specific country code.

 

Employees

 

As of December 30, 2018, we employed approximately 18,000 persons, of whom approximately 15,400 were restaurant team members, approximately 700 were restaurant management personnel, approximately 700 were corporate personnel and approximately 1,200 were QC Center and Preferred personnel. Most restaurant team members work part-time and are paid on an hourly basis. None of our team members are covered by a collective bargaining agreement. We consider our team member relations to be good.

 

Item 1A.  Risk Factors

 

We are subject to risks that could have a negative effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. These risks could cause actual operating results to differ from those expressed in certain “forward looking statements” contained in this Form 10-K as well as in other Company communications. Before you invest in our securities, you should carefully consider the following risk factors together with all other information included in this Form 10-K and our other publicly filed documents.

 

We have recently experienced negative publicity and consumer sentiment as a result of statements by the Company’s founder and former spokesperson, John H. Schnatter, which may continue to negatively impact our results of operations.

 

In July 2018, the Company was the subject of significant negative media reports as a result of certain statements by Mr. Schnatter, who resigned as Chairman of the Board on July 11, 2018.  The negative media continued throughout the third quarter of 2018, and the resultant negative consumer sentiment continued throughout the remainder of the 2018 fiscal year.

 

As a result of the recent negative publicity and consumer sentiment, the Company has experienced a decline in sales and operating profits.  This decline may continue if the negative consumer sentiment toward the Company continues or worsens.  If Mr. Schnatter makes further statements that create controversy or harm the Company’s reputation, it may take longer for our sales and consumer perception of our brand to improve. 

 

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We will incur costs related to addressing and remediating the impact of recent negative publicity surrounding our brand as a result of John H. Schnatter, which will adversely impact our financial performance.

 

In connection with the controversy surrounding Mr. Schnatter, a Special Committee of the Board of Directors, consisting of all of the independent directors, was formed to evaluate and take action with respect to all of the Company’s relationships and arrangements with Mr. Schnatter. Following its formation, the Special Committee terminated Mr. Schnatter’s Founder Agreement, which defined his role in the Company, among other things, as advertising and brand spokesperson for the Company.

 

In connection with these and other actions, the Company has incurred and expects to continue to incur significant non-recurring costs in 2019, including costs related to branding initiatives, marketing and advertising expenses and increased professional fees. In addition, the Company materially increased its franchisee financial assistance in 2018 in an effort to mitigate store closings, and expects to continue some additional level of assistance in 2019.  These costs and any additional costs we may incur to support these initiatives are expected to adversely affect our profitability and financial performance. There is no guarantee that our actions will be effective in attracting customers back to our restaurants and mitigating negative sales trends.

 

The recent negative publicity has had and may continue to have a negative impact on our business, and may have a long-term effect on our relationships with our customers, partners and franchisees.

 

Our business and reputation has been negatively affected by the recent negative publicity resulting from Mr. Schnatter’s statements.  If we are unable to rebuild the trust of our customers, franchisees, business partners and suppliers, and if further negative publicity continues, we could experience a substantial negative impact on our business. We have experienced claims and litigation as a consequence of these matters, including a shareholder class action in connection with a decline in our stock price and litigation with Mr. Schnatter. Related legal expenses of defending these claims have negatively impacted our operating results.  Continuing higher legal fees, potential new claims, liabilities from existing cases and continuing negative publicity could continue to have a negative impact on operating results.

 

We have experienced declining sales, and we cannot assure that we will be able to halt or reverse the decline.

 

Our system-wide North America and International comparable sales declined on a year-over-year basis in 2018.  The Company’s revenues and profitability growth depend on the ability to increase comparable restaurant sales, and it is uncertain whether this will occur or could take longer than expected.

 

Our Board of Directors has adopted a limited duration stockholder rights agreement, which could delay or discourage a merger, tender offer, or assumption of control of the Company not approved by our Board of Directors.

 

On July 22, 2018, the Board of Directors approved the adoption of a limited duration stockholder rights plan (the “Rights Plan”) with an expiration date of July 22, 2019 and an ownership trigger threshold of 15% (with a threshold of 31% applied to John H. Schnatter, together with his affiliates and family members). In connection with the Rights Plan, the Board of Directors authorized and declared a dividend to stockholders of record at the close of business on August 2, 2018 of one preferred share purchase right (a “Right”) for each outstanding share of common stock of the Company. Upon certain triggering events, each Right entitles the holder to purchase from the Company one one-thousandth (subject to adjustment) of one share of Series A Junior Participating Preferred Stock, $0.01 par value per share (“Preferred Stock”) of the Company at an exercise price of $250.00 (the “Exercise Price”) per one one-thousandth of a share of Preferred Stock.  In addition, if a person or group acquires beneficial ownership of 15% or more of the Company’s common stock (or in the case of Mr. Schnatter, 31% or more, and in the case of funds affiliated with Starboard Value LP, additional shares in excess of those issuable upon conversion of their Series B Convertible Preferred Stock) without prior board approval, each holder of a Right (other than the acquiring person or group whose Rights will become void) will have the right to purchase, upon payment of the Exercise Price and in accordance with the terms of the Rights Plan, a number of shares of the Company’s common stock having a market value of twice the Exercise Price.  On March 5, 2019, the Board of Directors extended the term of the Rights Plan to March 6, 2022, increased the ownership trigger threshold at which a person becomes an acquiring person from 15% to 20%, except as set forth above, removed the “acting in concert” provision in response to stockholder feedback, and included a qualifying offer provision as set forth in the Rights Plan.

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The Rights Plan is intended to enable all of our stockholders to realize the full potential value of their investment in the Company and to protect the interests of the Company and its stockholders by reducing the likelihood that any person or group gains control of the Company through open market accumulation or other tactics without paying an appropriate control premium. The Rights Plan could render more difficult, or discourage, a merger, tender offer, or assumption of control of the Company that is not approved by our Board of Directors. The Rights Plan, however, should not interfere with any merger, tender or exchange offer or other business combination approved by our Board of Directors. In addition, the Rights Plan does not prevent our Board of Directors from considering any offer that it considers to be in the best interest of the Company’s stockholders.

 

Our profitability may suffer as a result of intense competition in our industry.

 

The QSR Pizza industry is mature and highly competitive. Competition is based on price, service, location, food quality, brand recognition and loyalty, product innovation, effectiveness of marketing and promotional activity, use of technology, and the ability to identify and satisfy consumer preferences. We may need to reduce the prices for some of our products to respond to competitive and customer pressures, which may adversely affect our profitability. When commodity and other costs increase, we may be limited in our ability to increase prices. With the significant level of competition and the pace of innovation, we may be required to increase investment spending in several areas, particularly marketing and technology, which can decrease profitability.

 

In addition to competition with our larger and more established competitors, we face competition from new competitors such as fast casual pizza concepts. We also face competitive pressures from an array of food delivery concepts and aggregators delivering for quick service or dine in restaurants, using new delivery technologies, some of which may have more effective marketing. The emergence or growth of new competitors, in the pizza category or in the food service industry generally, may make it difficult for us to maintain or increase our market share and could negatively impact our sales and our system-wide restaurant operations.   We also face increasing competition from other home delivery services and grocery stores that offer an increasing variety of prepped or prepared meals in response to consumer demand. As a result, our sales can be directly and negatively impacted by actions of our competitors, the emergence or growth of new competitors, consumer sentiment or other factors outside our control.

 

One of our competitive strengths is our “BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.” brand promise. This means we may use ingredients that cost more than the ingredients some of our competitors may use. Because of our investment in higher-quality ingredients and our focus on a “clean label”, we could have lower profit margins than some of our competitors if we are not able to establish a quality differentiator that resonates with consumers. Our sales may be particularly impacted as competitors increasingly emphasize lower-cost menu options.

 

Changes in consumer preferences or discretionary consumer spending could adversely impact our results.

 

Changes in consumer preferences and trends (for example, changes in consumer perceptions of certain ingredients that could cause consumers to avoid pizza or some of its ingredients in favor of foods that are or are perceived as healthier, lower-calorie, or lower in carbohydrate or otherwise based on their ingredients or nutritional content).  Preferences for a dining experience such as fast casual pizza concepts, could also adversely affect our restaurant business and reduce the effectiveness of our marketing and technology initiatives. Also, our success depends to a significant extent on numerous factors affecting consumer confidence and discretionary consumer income and spending, such as general economic conditions, customer sentiment and the level of employment. Any factors that could cause consumers to spend less on food or shift to lower-priced products could reduce sales or inhibit our ability to maintain or increase pricing, which could adversely affect our operating results.

 

Food safety and quality concerns may negatively impact our business and profitability.

 

Incidents or reports of food- or water-borne illness or other food safety issues, investigations or other actions by food safety regulators, food contamination or tampering, employee hygiene and cleanliness failures, improper franchisee or employee conduct, or presence of communicable disease at our restaurants (Company-owned and franchised), QC Centers, or suppliers could lead to product liability or other claims. If we were to experience any such incidents or reports, our

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brand and reputation could be negatively impacted. This could result in a significant decrease in customer traffic and could negatively impact our revenues and profits. Similar incidents or reports occurring at quick service restaurants unrelated to us could likewise create negative publicity, which could negatively impact consumer behavior towards us.

 

We rely on our domestic and international suppliers, as do our franchisees, to provide quality ingredients and to comply with applicable laws and industry standards. A failure of one of our domestic or international suppliers to meet our quality standards, or meet domestic or international food industry standards, could result in a disruption in our supply chain and negatively impact our brand and our results.

 

Failure to preserve the value and relevance of our brand could have a negative impact on our financial results.

 

Our results depend upon our ability to differentiate our brand and our reputation for quality. Damage to our brand or reputation could negatively impact our business and financial results. Our brand has been highly rated in U.S. surveys, and we strive to build the value of our brand as we develop international markets.  As we experienced in 2018, the value of our brand and demand for our products could be damaged by any incidents that harm consumer perceptions of the Company, including negative publicity and consumer sentiment.

 

To be successful in the future, we must work to overcome the negative publicity we experienced in 2018, and preserve, enhance and leverage the value of our brand. Consumer perceptions of our brand are affected by a variety of factors, such as the nutritional content and preparation of our food, the quality of the ingredients we use, our corporate culture, our policies and systems related to diversity, equity and inclusion, our business practices and the manner in which we source the commodities we use. Consumer acceptance of our offerings is subject to change for a variety of reasons, and some changes can occur rapidly.  Consumer perceptions may also be affected by third parties presenting or promoting adverse commentary or portrayals of our industry, our brand, our suppliers or our franchisees.  If we are unsuccessful in managing incidents that erode consumer trust or confidence, particularly if such incidents receive considerable publicity or result in litigation, our brand value and financial results could be negatively impacted.

 

Our inability or failure to recognize, respond to and effectively manage the accelerated impact of social media could adversely impact our business.

 

In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the use of social media platforms, including blogs, chat platforms, social media websites, and other forms of internet-based communications that allow individuals access to a broad audience of consumers and other persons. The rising popularity of social media and other consumer-oriented technologies has increased the speed and accessibility of information dissemination. The dissemination of negative information via social media could harm our business, brand, reputation, marketing partners, financial condition, and results of operations, regardless of the information’s accuracy.

 

In addition, we frequently use social media to communicate with consumers and the public in general. Failure to use social media effectively could lead to a decline in brand value and revenue. Other risks associated with the use of social media include improper disclosure of proprietary information, negative comments about our brand, exposure of personally identifiable information, fraud, hoaxes or malicious dissemination of false information.

 

We may not be able to effectively market our products or maintain key marketing partnerships.

 

The success of our business depends on the effectiveness of our marketing and promotional plans, and in particular on the success of our efforts to relaunch our brand following the negative publicity we experienced in 2018. We may not be able to effectively execute our national or local marketing plans, particularly if lower sales continue to result in reduced levels of marketing funds.  Additionally, our recent launch of an enhanced rewards program to help increase sales may not meet our expectations and could lower profitability.  Our marketing strategy historically centered around the Company’s founder as brand spokesperson, and Mr. Schnatter’s removal as brand spokesperson in 2018 created the need for a new marketing strategy. We have also historically utilized  relationships with well-known sporting events, professional teams and certain universities to market our products.  The negative publicity we experienced in 2018 caused the loss of certain sports and university partnerships, and our business could continue to suffer if we are not able to create a compelling marketing

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strategy, or maintain or grow key marketing relationships and sponsorships, or if we are unable to do so at a reasonable cost. 

 

Our business will continue to require additional investments in alternative marketing strategies to address the challenges we faced in 2018.  In 2018, we engaged a new advertising agency and introduced a new advertising campaign to focus the consumer’s attention on the core values of our brand.  We expect to continue to invest in marketing to support the relaunch of our brand. If these efforts are not effective in increasing sales, we may be required to expend additional funds to effectively improve consumer sentiment and sales, and we may also be required to engage in additional activities to retain customers or attract new customers to the brand. Such marketing expenses and promotional activities, which could include discounting our products, could adversely impact our results.

 

Persons or marketing partners who endorse our products could take actions that harm their reputations, which could also cause harm to our brand. From time to time, in response to changes in the business environment and the audience share of marketing channels, we expect to reallocate marketing resources across social media and other channels. That reallocation may not be effective or as successful as the marketing and advertising allocations of our competitors, which could negatively impact the amount and timing of our revenues.

 

Our franchise business model presents a number of risks.

 

Our success increasingly relies on the financial success and cooperation of our franchisees, yet we have limited influence over their operations. Our franchisees manage their businesses independently, and therefore are responsible for the day-to-day operation of their restaurants. The revenues we realize from franchised restaurants are largely dependent on the ability of our franchisees to grow their sales. If our franchisees do not experience sales growth, our revenues and margins could be negatively affected as a result. Also, if sales trends worsen for franchisees, especially in emerging markets and/or high cost markets, their financial results may deteriorate, which could result in, among other things, higher levels of required financial support from us, higher numbers of restaurant closures, reduced numbers of restaurant openings, delayed or reduced payments to us, or increased franchisee assistance, which reduces our revenues.

 

Our success also increasingly depends on the willingness and ability of our franchisees to remain aligned with us on operating, promotional and marketing plans. Franchisees’ ability to continue to grow is also dependent in large part on the availability of franchisee funding at reasonable interest rates and may be negatively impacted by the financial markets in general or by the creditworthiness of our franchisees. Our operating performance could also be negatively affected if our franchisees experience food safety or other operational problems or project an image inconsistent with our brand and values, particularly if our contractual and other rights and remedies are limited, costly to exercise or subjected to litigation. If franchisees do not successfully operate restaurants in a manner consistent with our required standards, the brand’s image and reputation could be harmed, which in turn could hurt our business and operating results.

 

The issuance of shares of our Series B Preferred Stock to Starboard and its permitted transferees dilutes the ownership and relative voting power of holders of our common stock and may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

 

Pursuant to a Securities Purchase Agreement (the “Securities Purchase Agreement”) among the Company and certain funds affiliated with or managed by Starboard Value LP (“Starboard”), the Company sold 200,000 shares of our newly designated Series B Convertible Preferred Stock, par value $0.01 per share (the “Series B Preferred Stock”) to Starboard on February 3, 2019 (the “Closing”), with Starboard having the option to purchase up to an additional 50,000 shares of Series B Preferred Stock on or prior to March 29, 2019.

 

The initial shares sold to Starboard at the Closing represent approximately 11% of our outstanding common stock on an as-converted basis, and would represent in the aggregate an estimated 14% of our outstanding common stock on an as-converted basis assuming Starboard exercised in full their option to purchase an additional 50,000 shares of Series B Preferred Stock.  The Series B Preferred Stock is convertible at the option of the holders at any time into shares of common stock based on the conversion rate determined by dividing $1,000, the stated value of the Series B Preferred Stock, by $50.06. 

 

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Because holders of our Series B Preferred Stock are entitled to vote, on an as-converted basis, together with holders of our common stock on all matters submitted to a vote of the holders of our common stock, the issuance of the Series B Preferred Stock to Starboard effectively reduces the relative voting power of the holders of our common stock.

 

In addition, the conversion of the Series B Preferred Stock into common stock would dilute the ownership interest of existing holders of our common stock. Furthermore, following expiration of Starboard’s one-year lock-up period, any sales in the public market of the common stock issuable upon conversion of the Series B Preferred Stock could adversely affect prevailing market prices of our common stock. We granted Starboard customary registration rights in respect of their shares of Series B Preferred Stock and any shares of common stock issued upon conversion of the Series B Preferred Stock. These registration rights would facilitate the resale of such securities into the public market, and any such resale would increase the number of shares of our common stock available for public trading. Sales by Starboard of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that such sales might occur, could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common stock.

 

Our Series B Preferred Stock has rights, preferences and privileges that are not held by, and are preferential to, the rights of our common stockholders, which could adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition, result in the interests of Starboard differing from those of our common stockholders and delay or prevent an attempt to take over the Company.

 

Starboard, as the holder of our Series B Preferred Stock, has a liquidation preference entitling it to be paid, before any payment may be made to holders of our common stock in connection with a liquidation event, an amount per share of Series B Preferred Stock equal to the greater of (i) the stated value thereof plus  accrued and unpaid dividends and (ii) the amount that would have been received had such share of Series B Preferred Stock been converted into common stock immediately prior to such liquidation event.

 

Holders of Series B Preferred Stock are entitled to a preferential cumulative dividend at the rate of 3.6% per annum, payable quarterly in arrears. On the third anniversary of the date of issuance, each holder of Series B Preferred Stock will have the right to increase the dividend on the shares of Series B Preferred Stock held by such holder to 5.6%, and on the fifth anniversary of the date of issuance, each holder will have the right to increase the dividend on the shares of Series B Preferred Stock held by such holder to 7.6% (in each case subject to the Company’s right to redeem such shares of Series B Preferred Stock for cash).

 

The holders of our Series B Preferred Stock also have certain redemption rights or put rights, including the right on any date following November 6, 2026 to require us to repurchase all or any portion of the Series B Preferred Stock. Holders of the Series B Preferred Stock also have the right, subject to certain exceptions, to require us to repurchase all or any portion of the Series B Preferred Stock upon certain change of control events.

 

These dividend and share repurchase obligations could impact our liquidity and reduce the amount of cash flows available for working capital, capital expenditures, growth opportunities, acquisitions, and other general corporate purposes. Our obligations to Starboard, as the initial holder of our Series B Preferred Stock, could also limit our ability to obtain additional financing or increase our borrowing costs, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition. The preferential rights could also result in divergent interests between Starboard and holders of our common stock. Furthermore, a sale of our Company, as a change of control event, may require us to repurchase Series B Preferred Stock, which could have the effect of making an acquisition of the Company more expensive and potentially deterring proposed transactions that may otherwise be beneficial to our stockholders.

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Starboard may exercise influence over us, including through its ability to designate up to two members of our Board of Directors. 

 

The transaction documents entered into in connection with the sale of the Series B Preferred Stock to Starboard grant to Starboard consent rights with respect to certain actions by us, including:

 

·

amending our organizational documents in a manner that would have an adverse effect on the Series B Preferred Stock;

·

issuing securities that are senior to, or equal in priority with, the Series B Preferred Stock; and

·

increasing the maximum number of directors on our Board to more than eleven persons or twelve persons, subject to the terms of the Governance Agreement (the “Governance Agreement”) entered into in connection with the Securities Purchase Agreement.

 

 

The Securities Purchase Agreement also imposes a number of affirmative and negative covenants on us. As a result, Starboard has the ability to influence the outcome of matters submitted for the vote of the holders of our common stock. Starboard and its affiliates are in the business of making or advising on investments in companies, including businesses that may directly or indirectly compete with certain portions of our business, and they may have interests that diverge from, or even conflict with, those of our other stockholders. They may also pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business, and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us.

 

In addition, the terms of the Governance Agreement grant Starboard certain rights to designate directors to be nominated for election by holders of our common stock. For so long as certain criteria set forth in the Governance Agreement are satisfied, including that Starboard beneficially own, in the aggregate, at least (i) 89,264 shares of Series B Preferred Stock or (ii) the lesser of 5.0% of the Company’s then-outstanding common stock (on an as-converted basis, if applicable) and 1,783,141 shares of issued and outstanding common stock (subject to adjustment for stock splits, reclassifications, combinations and similar adjustments), Starboard has the right to designate two directors for election to our Board, consisting of one nominee who is affiliated with Starboard and one independent nominee.

 

The directors designated by Starboard also are entitled to serve on committees of our Board, subject to applicable law and stock exchange rules. Notwithstanding the fact that all directors will be subject to fiduciary duties to us and to applicable law, the interests of the directors designated by Starboard may differ from the interests of our security holders as a whole or of our other directors.

 

We may not be able to raise the funds necessary to finance a required repurchase of our Series B Preferred Stock. 

 

After November 6, 2026, each holder of Series B Preferred Stock will have the right, upon 90 days’ notice, to require the Company to repurchase all or any portion of the Series B Preferred Stock for cash at a price equal to $1,000 per share of Series B Preferred Stock plus all accrued but unpaid dividends. In addition, upon certain change of control events, holders of Series B Preferred Stock can require us, subject to certain exceptions, to repurchase any or all of their Series B Preferred Stock.

 

It is possible that we would not have sufficient funds to make any required repurchase of Series B Preferred Stock. Moreover, we may not be able to arrange financing, to pay the repurchase price.

 

We plan to invest proceeds from the sale of Series B Preferred Stock to advance our strategic priorities, and failure to realize the anticipated benefits of these investments could adversely impact our business and financial results.

 

We plan to use approximately half of the proceeds of Starboard’s investment to reduce the outstanding principal amount under our revolving credit facility. The remaining proceeds, combined with the additional borrowing availability under the revolving credit facility as a result of the debt repayment, is expected to provide financial flexibility that enables us to make investments in our business, including investments in our brand, products, technology, human capital and unit

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economics. However, we may not be able to implement and realize the anticipated benefits from these investments. Events and circumstances, such as financial or unforeseen difficulties, delays and unexpected costs may occur that could result in our not realizing desired outcomes. Any failure to implement the proceeds from the investment in accordance with our expectations could adversely affect our financial results.

 

Changes in privacy laws could adversely affect our ability to market our products effectively.

 

We rely on a variety of direct marketing techniques, including email, text messages and postal mailings. Any future restrictions in federal, state or foreign laws regarding marketing and solicitation or domestic or international data protection laws that govern these activities could adversely affect the continuing effectiveness of email, text messages and postal mailing techniques and could force changes in our marketing strategies. If this occurs, we may need to develop alternative marketing strategies, which may not be as effective and could impact the amount and timing of our revenues.

 

We may not be able to execute our strategy or achieve our planned growth targets, which could negatively impact our business and our financial results.

 

Our growth strategy depends on our and our franchisees’ ability to open new restaurants and to operate them on a profitable basis. We expect substantially all of our international unit growth and much of our domestic unit growth to be franchised units. Accordingly, our profitability increasingly depends upon royalty revenues from franchisees. If our franchisees are not able to operate their businesses successfully under our franchised business model, our results could suffer. Additionally, we may fail to attract new qualified franchisees or existing franchisees may close underperforming locations. Planned growth targets and the ability to operate new and existing restaurants profitably are affected by economic, regulatory and competitive conditions and consumer buying habits. A decrease in sales, such as what we experienced in 2018, or increased commodity or operating costs, including, but not limited to, employee compensation and benefits or insurance costs, could slow the rate of new store openings or increase the number of store closings. Our business is susceptible to adverse changes in local, national and global economic conditions, which could make it difficult for us to meet our growth targets. Additionally, we or our franchisees may face challenges securing financing, finding suitable store locations at acceptable terms or securing required domestic or foreign government permits and approvals.  Declines in comparable sales, net store openings and related operating profits significantly impacted our stock price in 2018.  If we do not improve future sales and operating results and meet our related growth targets or external expectations for net restaurant openings or our other strategic objectives in the future, our stock price could continue to decline.

 

Our franchisees remain dependent on the availability of financing to remodel or renovate existing locations, upgrade systems and enhance technology, or construct and open new restaurants. From time to time, the Company may provide financing to certain franchisees and prospective franchisees in order to mitigate store closings, allow new units to open, or complete required upgrades. If we are unable or unwilling to provide such financing, which is a function of, among other things, a franchisee’s creditworthiness, the number of new restaurant openings may be slower or the rate of closures may be higher than expected and our results of operations may be adversely impacted. To the extent we provide financing to franchisees, our results could be negatively impacted by negative performance of these franchisee loans.

 

We may be adversely impacted by increases in the cost of food ingredients and other costs.

 

We are exposed to fluctuations in commodities. An increase in the cost or sustained high levels of the cost of cheese or other commodities could adversely affect the profitability of our system-wide restaurant operations, particularly if we are unable to increase the selling price of our products to offset increased costs. Cheese, representing our largest food cost, and other commodities can be subject to significant cost fluctuations due to weather, availability, global demand and other factors that are beyond our control. Additionally, increases in labor, mileage, insurance, fuel, and other costs could adversely affect the profitability of our restaurant and QC Center businesses. Most of the factors affecting costs in our system-wide restaurant operations are beyond our control, and we may not be able to adequately mitigate these costs or pass along these costs to our customers or franchisees, given the significant competitive pricing pressures we face.

 

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Our dependence on a sole supplier or a limited number of suppliers for some ingredients could result in disruptions to our business.

 

Domestic restaurants purchase substantially all food and related products from our QC Centers. We are dependent on Leprino Foods Dairy Products Company (“Leprino”) as our sole supplier for cheese, one of our key ingredients. Leprino, one of the major pizza category suppliers of cheese in the United States, currently supplies all of our cheese domestically and substantially all of our cheese internationally. We also depend on a sole source for our supply of certain desserts, which constitutes less than 10% of our domestic Company-owned restaurant sales. While we have no other sole sources of supply for key ingredients or menu items, we do source other key ingredients from a limited number of suppliers. Alternative sources of cheese, desserts, other key ingredients or menu items may not be available on a timely basis or may not be available on terms as favorable to us as under our current arrangements.

 

Our Company-owned and franchised restaurants could also be harmed by a prolonged disruption in the supply of products from or to our QC Centers due to weather, climate change, natural disasters, crop disease, food safety incidents, regulatory compliance, labor dispute or interruption of service by carriers. In particular, adverse weather or crop disease affecting the California tomato crop could disrupt the supply of pizza sauce to our and our franchisees’ restaurants. Insolvency of key suppliers could also cause similar business interruptions and negatively impact our business.

 

Natural disasters, hostilities, social unrest and other catastrophic events may disrupt our operations or supply chain.

 

The occurrence of a natural disaster, hostilities, epidemic, cyber-attack, social unrest, terrorist activity or other catastrophic events may result in the closure of our restaurants (Company-owned or franchised), our corporate office, any of our QC Centers or the facilities of our suppliers, and can adversely affect consumer spending, consumer confidence levels and supply availability and costs, any of which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.

 

Changes in purchasing practices by our domestic franchisees could harm our commissary business.

 

Although our domestic franchisees currently purchase substantially all food products from our QC Centers, the only required QC Center purchases by franchisees are pizza sauce, dough and other items we may designate as proprietary or integral to our system. Any changes in purchasing practices by domestic franchisees, such as seeking alternative approved suppliers of ingredients or other food products, could adversely affect the financial results of our QC Centers and the Company.

 

Our current insurance may not be adequate and we may experience claims in excess of our reserves.

 

Our insurance programs for workers’ compensation, owned and non-owned vehicles, general liability, property and team member health insurance coverage are funded by the Company up to certain retention levels, generally ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. These insurance programs may not be adequate to protect us, and it may be difficult or impossible to obtain additional coverage or maintain current coverage at a reasonable cost. We also have experienced increasing claims volatility and higher related costs for workers’ compensation, owned and non-owned vehicles and health claims. We estimate loss reserves based on historical trends, actuarial assumptions and other data available to us, but we may not be able to accurately estimate reserves. If we experience claims in excess of our projections, our business could be negatively impacted.  Our franchisees could be similarly impacted by higher claims experience, hurting both their operating results and/or limiting their ability to maintain adequate insurance coverage at a reasonable cost.

 

Our international operations are subject to increased risks and other factors that may make it more difficult to achieve or maintain profitability or meet planned growth rates.

 

Our international operations could be negatively impacted by volatility and instability in international economic, political, security or health conditions in the countries in which the Company or our franchisees operate, especially in emerging markets. In addition, there are risks associated with differing business and social cultures and consumer preferences. We may face limited availability for restaurant locations, higher location costs and difficulties in franchisee selection and financing. We may be subject to difficulties in sourcing and importing high-quality ingredients (and ensuring food safety) in a cost-effective manner, hiring and retaining qualified team members, marketing effectively and adequately investing in information technology, especially in emerging markets.

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Our international operations are also subject to additional risk factors, including import and export controls, compliance with anti-corruption and other foreign laws, difficulties enforcing intellectual property and contract rights in foreign jurisdictions, and the imposition of increased or new tariffs or trade barriers. We intend to continue to expand internationally, which would make the risks related to our international operations more significant over time.

 

Our international results, which are now completely franchised, depend heavily on the operating capabilities and financial strength of our franchisees. Any changes in the ability of our franchisees to run their stores profitably in accordance with our operating procedures, or to effectively sub franchise stores, could result in brand damage, a higher number of restaurant closures and a reduction in the number of new restaurant openings. 

 

Sales made by our franchisees in international markets and certain loans we provide to such franchisees are denominated in their local currencies, and fluctuations in the U.S. dollar occur relative to the local currencies. Accordingly, changes in currency exchange rates will cause our revenues, investment income and operating results to fluctuate. We have not historically hedged our exposure to foreign currency fluctuations. Our international revenues and earnings may be adversely impacted as the U.S. dollar rises against foreign currencies because the local currency will translate into fewer U.S. dollars.  Additionally, the value of certain assets or loans denominated in local currencies may deteriorate. Other items denominated in U.S. dollars including product imports or loans may also become more expensive, putting pressure on franchisees’ cash flows.

 

We are subject to risks associated with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (“Brexit”). In March 2017, the United Kingdom formally notified the European Union of its intention to withdraw,  and withdrawal negotiations began in June 2017. European Union rules provide for a two-year negotiation period, ending on March 29, 2019, unless an extension is agreed to by the parties. There remains significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, including the possibility of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a negotiated and bilaterally approved withdrawal plan. We have significant operations in both the United Kingdom and the European Union. We depend on the free flow of labor and goods in those regions. The ongoing uncertainty and potential of border controls and customs duties on trade between the United Kingdom and European Union nations could negatively impact our business. The impact of Brexit will depend on the terms of any agreement the United Kingdom and the European Union reach to provide access to  markets.  As of December 30, 2018, 30.1% of our total international restaurants are in countries within the European Union.

 

We are subject to debt covenant restrictions.

 

Our credit agreement, as amended in October 2018, contains affirmative and negative covenants, including financial covenants.    If a covenant violation occurs or is expected to occur, we would be required to seek a waiver or amendment from the lenders under the credit agreement.  The failure to obtain a waiver or amendment on a timely basis would result in our inability to borrow additional funds or obtain letters of credit under our credit agreement and allow the lenders under our credit agreement to declare our loan obligations due and payable, require us to cash collateralize outstanding letters of credit or increase our interest rate. If any of the foregoing events occur, we would need to refinance our debt, or renegotiate or restructure, the terms of the credit agreement.

 

With our indebtedness, we may have reduced availability of cash flow for other purposes. Increases in interest rates would also increase our debt service costs and could materially impact our profitability as well as the profitability of our franchisees.

 

Current debt levels under our existing credit facility may reduce available cash flow to plan for or react to business changes, changes in the industry or any general adverse economic conditions.  Under our credit facility, we are exposed to variable interest rates.  We have entered into interest rate swaps that fix a significant portion of our variable interest rate risk.  However, by using a derivative instrument to hedge exposures to changes in interest rates, we also expose ourselves to credit risk. Credit risk is due to the possible failure of the counterparty to perform under the terms of the derivative contract. 

 

Higher inflation, and a related increase in costs, including rising interest rates, could also impact our franchisees and their ability to open new restaurants or operate existing restaurants profitably.

 

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Increasingly complex laws and regulations could adversely affect our business.

 

We operate in an increasingly complex regulatory environment, and the cost of regulatory compliance is increasing. Our failure, or the failure of any of our franchisees, to comply with applicable U.S. and international labor, health care, food, health and safety, consumer protection, anti-bribery and corruption, competition, environmental and other laws may result in civil and criminal liability, damages, fines and penalties. Enforcement of existing laws and regulations, changes in legal requirements, and/or evolving interpretations of existing regulatory requirements may result in increased compliance costs and create other obligations, financial or otherwise, that could adversely affect our business, financial condition or operating results. Increased regulatory scrutiny of food matters and product marketing claims, and increased litigation and enforcement actions may increase compliance and legal costs and create other obligations that could adversely affect our business, financial condition or operating results. Governments may also impose requirements and restrictions that impact our business. For example, some local government agencies have implemented ordinances that restrict the sale of certain food or drink products.

 

Compliance with new or additional domestic and international government laws or regulations, including the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which became effective in May 2018 could increase costs for compliance.  These laws and regulations are increasing in complexity and number, change frequently and increasingly conflict among the various countries in which we operate, which has resulted in greater compliance risk and costs. If we fail to comply with these laws or regulations, we could be subject to reputational damage and significant litigation, monetary damages, regulatory enforcement actions or fines in various jurisdictions. For example, a failure to comply with the GDPR could result in fines up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues. 

 

Higher labor costs and increased competition for qualified team members increase the cost of doing business and ensuring adequate staffing in our restaurants. Additionally, changes in employment and labor laws, including health care legislation and minimum wage increases, could increase costs for our system-wide operations.

 

Our success depends in part on our and our franchisees’ ability to recruit, motivate and retain a qualified workforce to work in our restaurants in an intensely competitive environment. Increased costs associated with recruiting, motivating and retaining qualified employees to work in Company-owned and franchised restaurants have had a negative impact on our Company-owned restaurant margins and the margins of franchised restaurants.  Competition for qualified drivers also continues to increase as more companies compete for drivers or enter the delivery space, including third party aggregators. Additionally, economic actions, such as boycotts, protests, work stoppages or campaigns by labor organizations, could adversely affect us (including our ability to recruit and retain talent) or our franchisees and suppliers whose performance may have a material impact on our results. Social media may be used to foster negative perceptions of employment with our Company in particular or in our industry generally, and to promote strikes or boycotts.

 

We are also subject to federal, state and foreign laws governing such matters as minimum wage requirements, overtime compensation, benefits, working conditions, citizenship requirements and discrimination and family and medical leave. Labor costs and labor-related benefits are primary components in the cost of operation of our restaurants and QC Centers.  Labor shortages, increased employee turnover and health care mandates could increase our system-wide labor costs.

 

A significant number of hourly personnel are paid at rates close to the federal and state minimum wage requirements. Accordingly, the enactment of additional state or local minimum wage increases above federal wage rates or regulations related to exempt employees has increased and could continue to increase labor costs for our domestic system-wide operations.

 

The Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010, requires employers such as us to provide health insurance for all qualifying employees in the United States or pay penalties for not providing coverage. We, like other industry competitors, are complying with the law and are providing more extensive health benefits to employees than we had previously provided, and are subsidizing a larger portion of their insurance premiums. These additional costs, or costs related to future healthcare regulation, could negatively impact our operational results. In addition, our franchisees subject to the ACA or future healthcare legislation could face additional cost pressures from compliance with the legislation, which could reduce their future expansion of units.

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We depend on the continued service and availability of key management personnel, and failure to successfully execute succession planning and attract talented team members could harm our Company and brand. 

 

Effective January 1, 2018, the Company appointed Steve Richie to serve as Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Mr. Schnatter in that role. In addition to the Chief Executive Officer succession at the beginning of 2018, we executed a significant management reorganization in the fall of 2018 to drive the future growth of the Company.  If the new management team is not successful in executing our strategy, our operating results and prospects for future growth may be adversely impacted.  Failure to effectively identify, develop and retain other key personnel, recruit high-quality candidates and ensure smooth management and personnel transitions could also disrupt our business and adversely affect our results.

 

The concentration of stock ownership with Mr. Schnatter may influence the outcome of certain matters requiring stockholder approval.

 

The concentration of stock ownership by Mr. Schnatter allows him to substantially influence the outcome of certain matters requiring stockholder approval.  Mr. Schnatter’s beneficial ownership is approximately 31% of our outstanding common stock. As a result, he may be able to substantially influence the strategic direction of the Company and the outcome of matters requiring approval by our stockholders, and the interests of Mr. Schnatter may differ from the interests of our stockholders as a whole.

 

We rely on information technology to operate our businesses and maintain our competitiveness, and any failure to invest in or adapt to technological developments or industry trends could harm our business.

 

We rely heavily on information systems, including digital ordering solutions, through which over half of our domestic sales originate. We also rely heavily on point-of-sale processing in our Company-owned and franchised restaurants for data collection and payment systems for the collection of cash, credit and debit card transactions, and other processes and procedures. Our ability to efficiently and effectively manage our business depends on the reliability and capacity of these technology systems. In addition, we anticipate that consumers will continue to have more options to place orders digitally, both domestically and internationally.  We plan to invest some of the proceeds from Starboard’s investment into enhancing and improving the functionality and features of our information technology systems.  However, we cannot ensure that this initiative will be beneficial to the extent, or within the timeframes, expected or that the estimated improvements will be realized as anticipated or at all.  Our failure to adequately invest in new technology, adapt to technological developments and industry trends, particularly our digital ordering capabilities, could result in a loss of customers and related market share. Notwithstanding adequate investment in new technology, our marketing and technology initiatives may not be successful in improving our comparable sales results. Additionally, we are in an environment where the technology life cycle is short and consumer technology demands are high, which requires continued reinvestment in technology which will increase the cost of doing business and will increase the risk that our technology may not be customer centric or could become obsolete, inefficient or otherwise incompatible with other systems.

 

We rely on our international franchisees to maintain their own point-of-sale and online ordering systems, which are often purchased from third-party vendors, potentially exposing international franchisees to more operational risk, including cyber and data privacy risks and governmental regulation compliance risks.

 

Disruptions of our critical business or information technology systems could harm our ability to compete and conduct our business.

 

Our critical business and information technology systems could be damaged or interrupted by power loss, various technological failures, user errors, cyber-attacks, sabotage or acts of God. In particular, the Company and our franchisees may experience occasional interruptions of our digital ordering solutions, which make online ordering unavailable or slow to respond, negatively impacting sales and the experience of our customers. If our digital ordering solutions do not perform with adequate speed and security, our customers may be less inclined to return to our digital ordering solutions.

 

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Part of our technology infrastructure, such as our domestic FOCUS point-of-sale system, is specifically designed for us and our operational systems, which could cause unexpected costs, delays or inefficiencies when infrastructure upgrades are needed or prolonged and widespread technological difficulties occur. Significant portions of our technology infrastructure, particularly in our digital ordering solutions, are provided by third parties, and the performance of these systems is largely beyond our control. Failure of our third-party systems and backup systems to adequately perform, particularly as our online sales grow, could harm our business and the satisfaction of our customers. Such third-party systems could be disrupted either through system failure or if third party vendor patents and contractual agreements do not afford us protection against similar technology. In addition, we may not have or be able to obtain adequate protection or insurance to mitigate the risks of these events or compensate for losses related to these events, which could damage our business and reputation and be expensive and difficult to remedy or repair.

 

We rely on third parties for certain business processes and services, and failure or inability of such third-party vendors to perform subjects us to risks, including business disruption and increased costs. 

We depend on suppliers and other third parties to operate our business. Some third-party business processes we utilize include information technology, gift card authorization and processing, other payment processing, benefits, and other accounting and business services.  We conduct third-party due diligence and seek to obtain contractual assurance that our vendors will maintain adequate controls, such as adequate security against data breaches.  However, the failure of our suppliers to maintain adequate controls or comply with our expectations and standards could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and operating results.

 

Failure to maintain the integrity of internal or customer data could result in damage to our reputation, loss of sales, and/or subject us to litigation, penalties or significant costs.

 

We are subject to a number of privacy and data protection laws and regulations. Our business requires the collection and retention of large volumes of internal and customer data, including credit card data and other personally identifiable information of our employees and customers housed in the various information systems we use. Constantly changing information security threats, particularly persistent cyber security threats, pose risks to the security of our systems and networks, and the confidentiality, availability and integrity of our data and the availability and integrity of our critical business functions.  As techniques used in cyber-attacks evolve, we may not be able to timely detect threats or anticipate and implement adequate security measures. The integrity and protection of the customer, employee, franchisee and Company data are critical to us. Our information technology systems and databases, and those provided by our third-party vendors, including international vendors, have been and will continue to be subject to computer viruses, malware attacks, unauthorized user attempts, phishing and denial of service and other malicious cyber-attacks. The failure to prevent fraud or security breaches or to adequately invest in data security could harm our business and revenues due to the reputational damage to our brand. Such a breach could also result in litigation, regulatory actions, penalties, and other significant costs to us and have a material adverse effect on our financial results. These costs could be significant and well in excess of our cyber insurance coverage.

 

We have been and will continue to be subject to various types of investigations and litigation, including collective and class action litigation, which could subject us to significant damages or other remedies.

 

We are subject to the risk of investigations and litigation from various parties, including vendors, customers, franchisees, state and federal agencies, stockholders and employees. From time to time, we are involved in a number of lawsuits, claims, investigations, and proceedings consisting of securities, intellectual property, employment, consumer, personal injury, corporate governance, commercial and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business.

 

We have been subject to claims in cases containing collective and class action allegations. Plaintiffs in these types of lawsuits often seek recovery of very large or indeterminate amounts, and the magnitude of the potential loss and defense costs relating to such lawsuits may not be accurately estimated. Litigation trends involving the relationship between franchisors and franchisees, personal injury claims, employment law and intellectual property may increase our cost of doing business. We evaluate all of the claims and proceedings involving us to assess the expected outcome, and where possible, we estimate the amount of potential losses to us. In many cases, particularly collective and class action cases, we may not be able to estimate the amount of potential losses and/or our estimates may prove to be insufficient. These

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assessments are made by management based on the information available at the time made and require the use of a significant amount of judgment, and actual outcomes or losses may materially differ. Regardless of whether any claims against us are valid, or whether we are ultimately held liable, such litigation may be expensive to defend and may divert resources away from our operations and negatively impact earnings. Further, we may not be able to obtain adequate insurance to protect us from these types of litigation matters or extraordinary business losses.

 

We may be subject to harassment or discrimination claims and legal proceedings. Although our Code of Ethics and Business Conduct policies prohibit harassment and discrimination in the workplace, in sexual or in any other form, we have ongoing programs for workplace training and compliance, and we investigate and take disciplinary action with respect to alleged violations, actions by our team members could violate those policies. Franchisees and suppliers are also required to comply with all applicable laws and govern themselves with integrity.  Any violations (or perceptions  thereof) by our franchisees or suppliers could have a negative impact on consumer perceptions of us and our business and create reputational or other harm to the Company. 

 

We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property rights, which could negatively affect our results of operations.

 

We depend on the Papa John’s brand name and rely on a combination of trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and similar intellectual property rights to protect and promote our brand. We believe the success of our business depends on our continued ability to exclusively use our existing marks to increase brand awareness and further develop our brand, both domestically and abroad. We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property rights, and we may be required to pursue litigation to prevent consumer confusion and preserve our brand’s high-quality reputation. Litigation could result in high costs and diversion of resources, which could negatively affect our results of operations, regardless of the outcome.

 

We may be subject to impairment charges.

 

Impairment charges are possible due to the nature and timing of decisions we make about underperforming assets or markets, or if previously opened or acquired restaurants perform below our expectations. This could result in a decrease in our reported asset value and reduction in our net income.

 

We operate globally and changes in tax laws could adversely affect our results.

 

We operate globally and changes in tax laws could adversely affect our results. We have international operations and generate substantial revenues and profits in foreign jurisdictions. The domestic and international tax environments continue to evolve as a result of tax changes in various jurisdictions in which we operate and changes in the tax laws in certain countries, including the United States, could impact our future net income. 

 

 

Item 1B.  Unresolved Staff Comments

 

None.

 

 

Item 2.  Properties

 

As of December 30, 2018, there were 5,303 Papa John’s restaurants system-wide. The following tables provide the locations of our restaurants. We define “North America” as the United States and Canada and “domestic” as the contiguous United States.

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North America Restaurants:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Company

    

Franchised

    

Total

 

Alabama

 

 3

 

78

 

81

 

Alaska

 

 —

 

11

 

11

 

Arizona

 

 —

 

75

 

75

 

Arkansas

 

 —

 

25

 

25

 

California

 

 —

 

195

 

195

 

Colorado

 

 —

 

50

 

50

 

Connecticut

 

 —

 

 8

 

 8

 

Delaware

 

 —

 

17

 

17

 

District of Columbia

 

 —

 

10

 

10

 

Florida

 

63

 

225

 

288

 

Georgia

 

100

 

71

 

171

 

Hawaii

 

 —

 

14

 

14

 

Idaho

 

 —

 

13

 

13

 

Illinois

 

 8

 

85

 

93

 

Indiana

 

43

 

92

 

135

 

Iowa

 

 —

 

24

 

24

 

Kansas

 

16

 

18

 

34

 

Kentucky

 

46

 

66

 

112

 

Louisiana

 

 —

 

59

 

59

 

Maine

 

 —

 

 3

 

 3

 

Maryland

 

59

 

41

 

100

 

Massachusetts

 

 —

 

12

 

12

 

Michigan

 

 —

 

43

 

43

 

Minnesota

 

 —

 

40

 

40

 

Mississippi

 

 —

 

28

 

28

 

Missouri

 

42

 

31

 

73

 

Montana

 

 —

 

 9

 

 9

 

Nebraska

 

 —

 

14

 

14

 

Nevada

 

 —

 

24

 

24

 

New Hampshire

 

 —

 

 3

 

 3

 

New Jersey

 

 —

 

52

 

52

 

New Mexico

 

 —

 

16

 

16

 

New York

 

 —

 

81

 

81

 

North Carolina

 

102

 

78

 

180

 

North Dakota

 

 —

 

 9

 

 9

 

Ohio

 

 —

 

162

 

162

 

Oklahoma

 

 —

 

40

 

40

 

Oregon

 

 —

 

16

 

16

 

Pennsylvania

 

 —

 

85

 

85

 

Rhode Island

 

 —

 

 4

 

 4

 

South Carolina

 

 9

 

68

 

77

 

South Dakota

 

 —

 

13

 

13

 

Tennessee

 

33

 

79

 

112

 

Texas

 

95

 

209

 

304

 

Utah

 

 —

 

30

 

30

 

Vermont

 

 —

 

 1

 

 1

 

Virginia

 

26

 

119

 

145

 

Washington

 

 —

 

48

 

48

 

West Virginia

 

 —

 

22

 

22

 

Wisconsin

 

 —

 

28

 

28

 

Wyoming

 

 —

 

10

 

10

 

Total U.S. Papa John’s Restaurants

 

645

 

2,554

 

3,199

 

Canada

 

 —

 

138

 

138

 

Total North America Papa John’s Restaurants

 

645

 

2,692

 

3,337

 

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International Restaurants:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Franchised

 

Azerbaijan

    

 6

 

Bahamas

 

 2

 

Bahrain

 

20

 

Belarus

 

15

 

Bolivia

 

 5

 

Cayman Islands

 

 2

 

Chile

 

87

 

China

 

209

 

Colombia

 

46

 

Costa Rica

 

24

 

Cyprus

 

 8

 

Dominican Republic

 

18

 

Ecuador

 

17

 

Egypt

 

49

 

El Salvador

 

25

 

France

 

 3

 

Guam

 

 3

 

Guatemala

 

13

 

Iraq

 

 1

 

Ireland

 

78

 

Israel

 

 4

 

Kazakhstan

 

 3

 

Korea

 

149

 

Kuwait

 

41

 

Kyrgyzstan

 

 3

 

Mexico

 

101

 

Morocco

 

 6

 

Netherlands

 

18

 

Nicaragua

 

 4

 

Oman

 

 9

 

Panama

 

12

 

Peru

 

41

 

Philippines

 

18

 

Poland

 

 6

 

Puerto Rico

 

27

 

Qatar

 

21

 

Russia

 

199

 

Saudi Arabia

 

27

 

Spain

 

72

 

Trinidad

 

 7

 

Tunisia

 

 6

 

Turkey

 

62

 

United Arab Emirates

 

45

 

United Kingdom

 

415

 

Venezuela

 

39

 

Total International Papa John’s Restaurants

 

1,966

 

 

Note: Company-owned Papa John’s restaurants include restaurants owned by majority-owned subsidiaries. There were 183 such restaurants at December 30, 2018 (59 in Maryland, 95 in Texas, 26 in Virginia, and 3 in Georgia).

 

Most Papa John’s Company-owned restaurants are located in leased space. The initial term of most domestic restaurant leases is generally five years with most leases providing for one or more options to renew for at least one additional term.

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Generally, the leases are triple net leases, which require us to pay all or a portion of the cost of insurance, taxes and utilities. As a result of assigning our interest in obligations under property leases as a condition of the refranchising of certain restaurants, we are also contingently liable for payment of approximately 124 domestic leases.

 

Nine of our 12 North America QC Centers are located in leased space.  Our remaining three locations are in buildings we own. Additionally, our corporate headquarters and our printing operations located in Louisville, KY are in buildings owned by us.

 

At December 30, 2018, we leased and subleased 344 Papa John’s restaurant sites to franchisees in the United Kingdom. The initial lease terms on the franchised sites in the United Kingdom are generally 10 to 15 years. The initial lease terms of the franchisee subleases are generally five to ten years. We own a full-service QC Center in the United Kingdom.

 

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

 

The Company is involved in a number of lawsuits, claims, investigations and proceedings, consisting of intellectual property, employment, consumer, commercial and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business. In accordance with Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 450, “Contingencies,” the Company has made accruals with respect to these matters, where appropriate, which are reflected in the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements. We review these provisions at least quarterly and adjust these provisions to reflect the impact of negotiations, settlements, rulings, advice of legal counsel and other information and events pertaining to a particular case.  We also are involved in litigation with our founder, John H. Schnatter, and are a defendant in a securities class action lawsuit.  See “Note 19” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.

 

Item 4.  Mine Safety Disclosures

 

None.

 

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EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT

 

Set forth below are the current executive officers of Papa John’s:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name

    

Age (a)

    

Position

    

First Elected
Executive Officer

 

 

 

Years of
Service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve M. Ritchie

 

44

 

President and Chief Executive Officer

 

2012

 

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael R. Nettles

 

52

 

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Growth Officer

 

2018

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph H. Smith

 

55

 

Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

 

2018

 

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvin Boakye

 

45

 

Chief People Officer

 

2019

 

-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caroline Miller Oyler

 

53

 

Senior Vice President, Chief Legal and Risk Officer

 

2018

 

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack H. Swaysland

 

54

 

Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer – International

 

2018

 

12


(a)

Ages are as of January 1, 2019.

 

Steve M. Ritchie was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer effective January 1, 2018 and was appointed to serve on the Board of Directors effective February 4, 2019.  He served as President and Chief Operating Officer from July 2015 to December 31, 2017, after serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since May 2014. Mr. Ritchie served as a Senior Vice President since December 2010 and in various capacities of increasing responsibility over Global Operations & Global Operations Support and Training since July 2010. Since 2006, he also has served as a franchise owner and operator of multiple units in the Company’s Midwest Division.

 

Michael R. Nettles was appointed Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Growth Officer in October 2018 after serving as Senior Vice President, Chief Information and Digital officer since February 2017.  Prior to February 2017, Mr. Nettles served for four years with Panera Bread serving as Vice President, Architecture and Information Technology Strategy.  Prior to Panera, Mr. Nettles served as Vice President of Tag Solutions for Goji Food Solutions from April 2011 until July of 2012 and concurrently as Founder and President of Red Chair Ventures, a foodservice technology solutions provider from January 2009 until July of 2012.

 

Joseph H. Smith was appointed to Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer in April 2018 after serving as the Company’s Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Development from 2016 to April 2018 and as Vice President, Global Sales and Development from 2010 to 2016. Mr. Smith served as Vice President of Corporate Finance from 2005 to 2010 and as Senior Director of Corporate Budgeting and Finance from 2000 to 2005. Prior to joining Papa John's, Mr. Smith served as Corporate Controller for United Catalysts, Inc. from 1998 to 2000. Mr. Smith began his career in public accounting in 1985 at Ernst & Young. Mr. Smith is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.

 

Marvin Boakye was appointed Chief People Officer in January 2019.  He joined Papa John’s after serving as the Vice President Human Resources for Andeavor (which was acquired by Marathon Petroleum) from March 2017.  From June 2015 to March 2017, Mr. Boakye served as Chief Human Resources Officer for MTS Allstream Inc., a Canadian telecommunications company.  From January 2010 to June 2015, he worked for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company as Director Human Resources Latin America.

 

Caroline Miller Oyler was appointed Senior Vice President, Chief Legal and Risk Officer in October 2018. Ms. Oyler previously served as Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer from May 2018 to October 2018 and Senior Vice President, General Counsel from May 2014 to May 2018. Additionally, Ms. Oyler served as Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs from November 2012 to May 2014 and as Vice President and Senior Counsel since joining the Company’s legal

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department in 1999. She also served as interim head of Human Resources from December 2008 to September 2009. Prior to joining Papa John’s, Ms. Oyler practiced law with the firm Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs LLP. 

 

Jack H. Swaysland was appointed to Chief Operating Officer – International in May 2018 after serving as Senior Vice President, International since April 2016. Mr. Swaysland previously served as Vice President, International from April 2015 to April 2016, Regional Vice President, International from May 2013 to April 2015, and Vice President, International Operations from April 2010 to May 2013. Mr. Swaysland has served in various capacities of increasing responsibility in International Operations since joining the Company 12 years ago.

 

There are no family relationships between any of the directors or executive officers of the Company.

 

PART II

 

Item 5.  Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Our common stock trades on The NASDAQ Global Select Market tier of The NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol PZZA.  As of March 4, 2019, there were 1,054 record holders of common stock. However, there are significantly more beneficial owners of our common stock than there are record holders.

 

Our Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.225 per share on January 30, 2019, that was payable on February 22, 2019, to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 11, 2019.

 

We anticipate continuing the payment of quarterly cash dividends. The actual amount of such dividends is subject to declaration by our Board of Directors and will depend upon future earnings, results of operations, capital requirements, our financial condition and other relevant factors. Additionally, in connection with the execution of our amended Credit Facility in October 2018, no increase in dividends per share may occur when the Leverage Ratio, as defined in the Credit Agreement, is higher than 3.75 to 1.0.  There can be no assurance that the Company will continue to pay quarterly cash dividends at the current rate or at all.

 

A total of 115.2 million shares with an aggregate cost of $1.8 billion and an average price of $15.66 per share were repurchased under a share repurchase program that began on December 9, 1999 and expired February 27, 2019.  There were no share repurchases in the fourth quarter of 2018.  In connection with the execution of our amended Credit Agreement in October 2018, the Company cannot repurchase shares when our Leverage Ratio, as defined in the Credit Agreement, is higher than 3.75 to 1.0.  As of December 30, 2018, the Leverage Ratio was 4.7 to 1.0.  Please see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 of this Form 10-K for additional information.

 

The information required by Item 5 with respect to securities authorized for issuance under equity compensation plans is incorporated herein by reference to Part III, Item 12 of this Form 10-K.

 

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Stock Performance Graph

 

The following performance graph compares the cumulative shareholder return of the Company’s common stock for the five-year period between December 29, 2013 and December 30, 2018 to (i) the NASDAQ Stock Market (U.S.) Index and (ii) a group of the Company’s peers consisting of U.S. companies listed on NASDAQ with standard industry classification (SIC) codes 5800-5899 (eating and drinking places).  Management believes the companies included in this peer group appropriately reflect the scope of the Company’s operations and match the competitive market in which the Company operates. The graph assumes the value of the investments in the Company’s common stock and in each index was $100 on December 29, 2013, and that all dividends were reinvested.

Picture 1

 

 

 

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Item 6.  Selected Financial Data

 

The selected financial data presented for each of the past five fiscal years were derived from our audited Consolidated Financial Statements. The selected financial data below should be read in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the “Consolidated Financial Statements” and Notes thereto included in Item 7 and Item 8, respectively, of this Form 10-K. The Company has reclassified certain prior year amounts within the Consolidated Statements of Operations for the years ended December 31, 2017 and December 25, 2016 in order to conform with current year presentation.  See “Note 24” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year Ended(1)

 

    

Dec. 30,

    

Dec. 31,

    

Dec. 25,

    

Dec. 30,

    

Dec. 25,

(In thousands, except per share data)

 

2018

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

 

2014

 

 

 

52 weeks

 

 

53 weeks

 

 

52 weeks

 

 

52 weeks

 

 

52 weeks

Income Statement Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic Company-owned restaurant sales

 

$

692,380

 

$

816,718

 

$

815,931

 

$

756,307

 

$

701,854

North America franchise royalties and fees (2)

 

 

79,293

 

 

106,729

 

 

102,980

 

 

96,056

 

 

90,169

North America commissary

 

 

609,866

 

 

673,712

 

 

623,883

 

 

680,321

 

 

703,671

International (3)

 

 

110,349

 

 

114,021

 

 

100,904

 

 

104,691

 

 

102,455

Other revenues

 

 

81,428

 

 

72,179

 

 

69,922

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

Total revenues (4)

 

 

1,573,316

 

 

1,783,359

 

 

1,713,620

 

 

1,637,375

 

 

1,598,149

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Refranchising and impairment gains/(losses), net

 

 

(289)

 

 

(1,674)

 

 

10,222

 

 

 —

 

 

(979)

Operating income

 

 

30,380

 

 

151,017

 

 

164,523

 

 

136,307

 

 

117,630

Legal settlement

 

 

 —

 

 

 —

 

 

898

 

 

(12,278)

 

 

 —

Investment income

 

 

817

 

 

608

 

 

785

 

 

794

 

 

702

Interest expense

 

 

(25,306)

 

 

(11,283)

 

 

(7,397)

 

 

(5,676)

 

 

(4,077)

Income before income taxes

 

 

5,891

 

 

140,342

 

 

158,809

 

 

119,147

 

 

114,255

Income tax expense

 

 

2,646

 

 

33,817

 

 

49,717

 

 

37,183

 

 

36,558

Net income before attribution to noncontrolling interests

 

 

3,245

 

 

106,525

 

 

109,092

 

 

81,964

 

 

77,697

Income attributable to noncontrolling interests (5)

 

 

(1,599)

 

 

(4,233)

 

 

(6,272)

 

 

(6,282)

 

 

(4,382)

Net income attributable to the Company

 

$

1,646

 

$

102,292

 

$

102,820

 

$

75,682

 

$

73,315

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net income attributable to common shareholders

 

$

1,646

 

$

103,288

 

$

102,967

 

$

75,422

 

$

72,869

Basic earnings per common share

 

$

0.05

 

$

2.86

 

$

2.76

 

$

1.91

 

$

1.78

Diluted earnings per common share

 

$

0.05

 

$

2.83

 

$

2.74

 

$

1.89

 

$

1.75

Basic weighted average common shares outstanding

 

 

32,083

 

 

36,083

 

 

37,253

 

 

39,458

 

 

40,960

Diluted weighted average common shares outstanding

 

 

32,299

 

 

36,522

 

 

37,608

 

 

40,000

 

 

41,718

Dividends declared per common share

 

$

0.90

 

$

0.85

 

$

0.75

 

$

0.63

 

$

0.53

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance Sheet Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total assets

 

$

570,947

 

$

555,553

 

$

512,565

 

$

494,058

 

$

504,555

Total debt

 

 

625,000

 

 

470,000

 

 

300,575

 

 

256,000

 

 

230,451

Redeemable noncontrolling interests

 

 

5,464

 

 

6,738

 

 

8,461

 

 

8,363

 

 

8,555

Total stockholders’ equity (deficit)

 

 

(302,134)

 

 

(105,954)

 

 

9,801

 

 

42,206

 

 

98,715

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Table of Contents

(1)

We operate on a 52-53 week fiscal year ending on the last Sunday of December of each year. The 2017 fiscal year consisted of 53 weeks and all other years above consisted of 52 weeks. The additional week resulted in additional revenues of approximately $30.9 million and additional income before income taxes of approximately $5.9 million, or $0.11 per diluted share for 2017.

(2)

North America franchise royalties were derived from franchised restaurant sales of $2.13 billion in 2018, $2.30 billion in 2017 ($2.25 billion on a 52-week basis), $2.20 billion in 2016, $2.13 billion in 2015 and $2.04 billion in 2014.

(3)

Includes international royalties and fees, restaurant sales for international Company-owned restaurants, and international commissary revenues.  International royalties were derived from franchised restaurant sales of $832.3 million in 2018, $761.3 million in 2017 ($744.0 million on a 52-week basis), $648.9 million in 2016, $592.7 million in 2015 and $553.0 million in 2014. Restaurant sales for international Company-owned restaurants were $6.2 million in 2018, $13.7 million in 2017 ($13.4 million on a 52-week basis), $14.5 million in 2016, $19.3 million in 2015 and $23.7 million in 2014.

(4)

The Company adopted Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2014-09, “Revenue from Contracts with Customers” in 2018.  See “Notes 2, 3 and 4” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.

(5)

Represents the noncontrolling interests’ allocation of income for our joint venture arrangements.

 

 

 

 

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Table of Contents

Item 7.  Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

Introduction

 

Papa John’s International, Inc. (referred to as the “Company,” “Papa John’s” or in the first person notations of “we,” “us” and “our”) began operations in 1984. At December 30, 2018, there were 5,303 Papa John’s restaurants in operation, consisting of 645 Company-owned and 4,658 franchised restaurants. Our revenues are derived from retail sales of pizza and other food and beverage products to the general public by Company-owned restaurants, franchise royalties, and sales of franchise and development rights. Additionally, approximately 42% to 46% of our North America revenues in each of the last three fiscal years were derived from sales to franchisees of various items including food and paper products, printing and promotional items and information systems equipment, and software and related services. We also derive revenues from the operation of three international QC centers.  We believe that in addition to supporting both Company and franchised profitability and growth, these activities contribute to product quality and consistency throughout the Papa John’s system.

 

We strive to obtain high-quality restaurant sites with good access and visibility and to enhance the appearance and quality of our restaurants. We believe these factors improve our image and brand awareness. Our expansion strategy is to cluster restaurants in targeted markets, thereby increasing consumer awareness and enabling us to take advantage of operational, distribution and advertising efficiencies.

 

Detailed below is a progression of new unit growth for our Domestic and International restaurants:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domestic Company-owned

Franchised North America

Total North America

International

System-wide

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning - December 31, 2017

708

2,733

3,441

1,758

5,199

Opened

 6

83

89

304

393

Closed

(7)

(186)

(193)

(96)

(289)

Acquired

 -

62

62

34

96

Sold

(62)

 -

(62)

(34)

(96)

Ending - December 30, 2018

645

2,692

3,337

1,966

5,303

Net unit growth - 2018

(63)

(41)

(104)

208

104

 

The average cash investment for the six domestic traditional Company-owned restaurants opened during 2018 was approximately $345,000, exclusive of land and any tenant improvement allowances we received, compared to $354,000 average investment for the 7 domestic traditional units opened in 2017.  In recent years, we have experienced an increase in the cost of our new restaurants primarily as a result of building larger units, an increase in the cost of certain equipment as a result of technology enhancements, and increased costs to comply with local regulations.

 

Average annual Company-owned sales for our most recent domestic comparable restaurant base were $1.07 million for 2018, compared to $1.19 million ($1.17 million on a 52-week basis) for 2017 and $1.16 million for 2016.  The comparable sales for Company-owned restaurants decreased 9.0% in 2018 and increased 0.4% and 4.4% in 2017 and 2016, respectively.  “Comparable sales” represents sales generated by traditional restaurants open for the entire twelve-month period reported.  The comparable sales for North America franchised units decreased 6.7% in 2018 and 0.1% in 2017 and increased 3.1% in 2016.  The comparable sales for system-wide International units decreased 1.6% in 2018, but increased 4.4% in 2017 and 6.0% in 2016.

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Strategy

 

Early in 2018, we outlined five strategic priorities to improve upon the execution of the Company’s strategy, including:

 

·

People:  Focus on making people a priority with advanced career opportunities and more efficient restaurant procedures to support improved recruitment and retention.

·

Brand differentiation messaging:  Develop improved marketing messaging that highlights our quality products and ingredients.

·

Value perception:  Provide everyday accessible value to consumers.

·

Technological advancements:  Promote technological advancements with enhanced data and analytics capabilities.

·

Restaurant unit economics:  Invest further in our restaurants to operate more efficiently while improving the customer experience.

 

We believe investments in these areas will provide the enhanced focus and support necessary to achieve our goal to build brand loyalty over the long-term by delivering on our “BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.” promise.  Despite our recent brand challenges, we believe that we are recognized as a trusted brand and quality leader in the domestic pizza category, and we believe that focusing on these areas will enable us to build our brand on a global basis and increase sales and global units.    

 

2018 Business Matters

 

Background on Recent Negative Publicity 

 

We have experienced negative publicity and consumer sentiment as a result of statements by the Company’s founder and former spokesperson John H. Schnatter in late 2017 and in July 2018, which contributed to our negative sales results in 2018. Mr. Schnatter resigned as Chairman of the Board on July 11, 2018, the same day that the media reported certain controversial statements made by Mr. Schnatter.  A Special Committee of the Board of Directors consisting of all of the independent directors (the “Special Committee”) was formed on July 15, 2018 to evaluate and take action with respect to all of the Company’s relationships and arrangements with Mr. Schnatter.  In addition, on July 27, 2018, the Company announced that the Board’s Lead Independent Director, Olivia F. Kirtley, had been unanimously appointed by the Board of Directors to serve as Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors. Following its formation, the Special Committee terminated Mr. Schnatter’s Founder Agreement, which defined his role in the Company, among other things, as advertising and brand spokesperson for the Company. The Special Committee, among other things, oversaw the previously announced external audit and investigation of all the Company’s existing processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion, supplier and vendor engagement and Papa John’s culture, which is substantially complete. The Special Committee has delivered recommendations resulting from the audit to Company management, who will implement the recommendations, including initiatives and training regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.   The Company is also implementing various branding and marketing initiatives, including a new advertising and marketing campaign.  

 

The negative consumer sentiment surrounding the Company’s brand has continued to impact the North America system-wide sales and the Company cannot predict how long the negative consumer sentiment will continue. The Company also incurred significant costs (defined as “Special charges”) as a result of the above-mentioned recent events in the second half of 2018.  We incurred $50.7 million of Special charges as follows:

 

·

franchise royalty reductions of approximately $15.4 million for all North America franchisees,

·

reimaging costs at nearly all domestic restaurants and replacement or write off of certain branded assets totaling $5.8 million,

·

contribution of $10.0 million to the Papa John’s National Marketing Fund (“PJMF”), and

·

legal and professional fees, which amounted to $19.5 million, for various matters relating to the review of a wide range of strategic opportunities for the Company that culminated in the recent strategic investment in the Company by affiliates of Starboard Value LP, as well as a previously announced external culture audit and other activities overseen by the Special Committee. 

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The franchise royalty reductions reduce the amount of North America franchise royalties and fees revenues within our Consolidated Statements of Operations.  All other costs associated with these events are included in General and administrative expenses within the Consolidated Statements of Operations. 

 

The Company could continue to experience a decline in sales resulting from the aforementioned negative consumer sentiment and incur additional charges in 2019 as a result of the recent events. The Company estimates that these costs will amount to between $30 million and $50 million for 2019.

 

In September 2018, the Company began a process to evaluate a wide range of strategic options with the goal of improving sales, maximizing value for all shareholders and serving the best interest of the Company’s stakeholders.  As part of this strategic review, the Special Committee also engaged legal and financial advisors.  After extensive discussions with a wide group of strategic and financial investors, the Special Committee concluded that an investment agreement with funds affiliated with Starboard Value LP (together with its affiliates, “Starboard”) was in the best interest of shareholders. On February 3, 2019, the Company entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement (the “Securities Purchase Agreement”) with Starboard pursuant to which Starboard made a $200 million strategic investment in the Company’s newly designated Series B convertible preferred stock, par value $0.01 per share (the “Series B Preferred Stock”) with the option to make an additional $50 million investment in the Series B Preferred Stock through March 29, 2019.  In addition, the Company has the right to offer up to 10,000 shares of Series B Preferred Stock to Papa John’s franchisees, on the same terms as to Starboard, provided such franchisees satisfy accredited investor and other requirements of the offering under securities laws.

 

The Company will use approximately half of the proceeds from the sale of the Series B Preferred Stock to reduce the outstanding principal amount under the Company’s unsecured revolving credit facility.  The remaining proceeds are expected to be used to make investments in the business and for general corporate purposes.

 

In connection with Starboard’s investment, the Company expanded its Board of Directors to include two new independent directors, Jeffrey C. Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Starboard, who was appointed Chairman of the Board, and Anthony M. Sanfilippo, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc.  The Board of Directors believes Mr. Smith’s business expertise and new perspectives will help support the Company’s strategy to capitalize on its differentiated “BETTER INGREDIENTS.  BETTER PIZZA.” market position and build a better pizza company for the benefit of its shareholders, team members, franchisees and customers.  In addition, the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Ritchie has been appointed to the Board.  With the addition of the new directors, the Board currently is comprised of nine directors, seven of whom are independent.

 

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

 

The results of operations are based on our Consolidated Financial Statements, which were prepared in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”). The preparation of Consolidated Financial Statements requires management to select accounting policies for critical accounting areas as well as estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in the Consolidated Financial Statements. The Company’s significant accounting policies, including recently issued accounting pronouncements, are more fully described in “Note 2” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.” Significant changes in assumptions and/or conditions in our critical accounting policies could materially impact the operating results. We have identified the following accounting policies and related judgments as critical to understanding the results of our operations:

 

Revenue Recognition and Statement of Operations Presentation

 

In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2014-09, “Revenue from Contracts with Customers” (“ASU 2014-09”), which supersedes nearly all existing revenue recognition guidance under GAAP, including industry-specific requirements, and provides companies with a single revenue recognition framework for recognizing revenue from contracts with customers. In March and April 2016, the FASB issued the following amendments to clarify the implementation guidance: ASU 2016-08, “Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606): Principal versus Agent Considerations (Reporting Revenue Gross versus Net)” and ASU 2016-

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10, “Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606): Identifying Performance Obligations and Licensing”. This update and subsequently issued amendments (collectively “Topic 606”) requires companies to recognize revenue at amounts that reflect the consideration to which the company expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services at the time of transfer. Topic 606 requires that we assess contracts to determine each separate and distinct performance obligation.  If a contract has multiple performance obligations, we allocate the transaction price using our best estimate of the standalone selling price to each distinct good or service in the contract. 

 

We adopted Topic 606 using the modified retrospective transition method effective January 1, 2018.  Results for reporting periods beginning after January 1, 2018 are presented under Topic 606, while prior period amounts are not adjusted and continue to be reported in accordance with our historical accounting under Topic 605, “Revenue Recognition.”

 

The cumulative effect adjustment of $21.5 million was recorded as a reduction to retained earnings as of January 1, 2018 to reflect the impact of adopting Topic 606. The impact of applying Topic 606 for 2018 included the following (dollars in thousands, except for per share amounts):

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year Ended

 

December 30, 2018

 

 

 

Total revenue impact (a)

$

4,010

Pre-tax income impact (b)

 

(3,362)

Diluted EPS

 

(0.08)

 

(a)

The revenue increase of $4.0 million is primarily due to the requirement to present revenues and expenses related to marketing funds we control on a “gross” basis. This increase was partially offset by lower Company-owned restaurant revenues attributable to the revised method of accounting for the loyalty program and required reporting of franchise new store equipment incentives as a reduction of revenue. The marketing fund gross up is reported in the new financial statement line items, Other revenues and Other expenses, as discussed further below.

(b)

The $3.4 million decrease in pre-tax income in 2018 is primarily due to the revised method of accounting for the loyalty program and franchise fees.

 

While not required as part of the adoption of Topic 606, our Statement of Operations includes newly created Other revenues and Other expenses line items.  Other revenues and Other expenses include the Topic 606 “gross up” of respective revenues and expenses derived from certain domestic and international marketing fund co-ops we control, as previously discussed. Additionally, Other revenues and Other expenses include various reclassifications from North America commissary and Other, International and general and administrative expenses to better reflect and aggregate various domestic and international services provided by the Company for the benefit of franchisees.  Related 2017 amounts have also been reclassified to conform to the new 2018 presentation. These reclassifications had no impact on total revenues or total costs and expenses reported.  See “Note 24” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.

 

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts and Notes Receivable

 

We establish reserves for uncollectible accounts and notes receivable based on overall receivable aging levels and a specific evaluation of accounts and notes for franchisees and other customers with known financial difficulties. Balances are charged off against the allowance after recovery efforts have ceased.

 

Noncontrolling Interests

 

At December 30, 2018, the Company has three joint ventures consisting of 183 restaurants, which have noncontrolling interests.  During 2018, the Company refranchised 62 restaurants that were previously held in two additional joint ventures.  Consolidated net income is required to be reported separately at amounts attributable to both the parent and the noncontrolling interests. Additionally, disclosures are required to clearly identify and distinguish between the interests of

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the parent company and the interests of the noncontrolling owners, including a disclosure on the face of the Consolidated Statements of Operations of income attributable to the noncontrolling interest holder.

 

The following summarizes the redemption feature, location and related accounting within the Consolidated Balance Sheets for these three remaining joint venture arrangements:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Type of Joint Venture Arrangement

    

Location within the  Balance Sheets

    

 Recorded Value

 

 

 

 

 

Joint venture with no redemption feature

 

Permanent equity

 

Carrying value

 

 

 

 

 

Option to require the Company to purchase the noncontrolling interest - not currently redeemable

 

Temporary equity

 

Carrying value

 

See “Note 8” and “Note 9” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.

 

Intangible Assets — Goodwill

 

We evaluate goodwill annually in the fourth quarter or whenever we identify certain triggering events or circumstances that would more-likely-than-not reduce the fair value of a reporting unit below its carrying amount. Such tests are completed separately with respect to the goodwill of each of our reporting units, which includes our domestic Company-owned restaurants, United Kingdom (“PJUK”), China, and Preferred Marketing Solutions operations.  We may perform a qualitative assessment or move directly to the quantitative assessment for any reporting unit in any period if we believe that it is more efficient or if impairment indicators exist.

 

We elected to perform a quantitative assessment for our domestic Company owned restaurants, United Kingdom (“PJUK”), China, and Preferred Marketing Solutions operations in the fourth quarter of 2018.  We considered both an income approach and a market approach for our reporting units. The income approach used projected net cash flows adjusted for the appropriate time value of money factors. The selected discount rate considered the risk and nature of each reporting unit’s cash flow and the rates of return market participants would require to invest their capital in the reporting unit. In determining the fair value from a market approach, we considered earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”) and sales multiples that a potential buyer would pay based on third-party transactions in similar markets.

 

As a result of our quantitative analyses, we determined that it was more-likely-than-not that the fair values of our reporting units substantially exceeded their carrying amounts.  Subsequent to completing our goodwill impairment tests, no indicators of impairment were identified.    See “Note 10” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.

 

Insurance Reserves

 

Our insurance programs for workers’ compensation, owned and non-owned automobiles, general liability, property, and health insurance coverage provided to our employees are funded by the Company up to certain retention levels under our retention programs. Retention limits generally range from $100,000 to $1.0 million.

 

Losses are accrued based upon undiscounted estimates of the liability for claims incurred using certain third-party actuarial projections and our claims loss experience. The estimated insurance claims losses could be significantly affected should the frequency or ultimate cost of claims differ significantly from historical trends used to estimate the insurance reserves recorded by the Company. The Company records estimated losses above retention within its reserve with a corresponding receivable for expected amounts due from insurance carriers. 

 

Income Tax Accounts and Tax Reserves

 

Papa John’s is subject to income taxes in the United States and several foreign jurisdictions.  Significant judgment is required in determining Papa John’s provision for income taxes and the related assets and liabilities. The provision for

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income taxes includes income taxes paid, currently payable or receivable and those deferred. We use an estimated annual effective rate based on expected annual income to determine our quarterly provision for income taxes. Discrete items are recorded in the quarter in which they occur.

 

Deferred tax assets and liabilities are determined based on differences between financial reporting and tax basis of assets and liabilities and are measured using enacted tax rates and laws that are expected to be in effect when the differences reverse. Deferred tax assets are also recognized for the estimated future effects of tax attribute carryforwards (e.g., net operating losses, capital losses, and foreign tax credits). The effect on deferred taxes of changes in tax rates is recognized in the period in which the new tax rate is enacted. Valuation allowances are established when necessary on a jurisdictional basis to reduce deferred tax assets to the amounts we expect to realize.

 

On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) was enacted, significantly decreasing the U.S. federal income tax rate for corporations effective January 1, 2018.  On that same date, the Securities and Exchange Commission  also issued Staff Accounting Bulletin (“SAB”) 118, which provides guidance on accounting for the tax effects of the Tax Act. SAB 118 provides a measurement period that should not extend beyond one year from the Tax Act enactment date for companies to complete the accounting under ASC 740, “Income Taxes.”  As a result, we remeasured our deferred tax assets, liabilities and related valuation allowances in 2017.  This remeasurement yielded a 2017 benefit of approximately $7.0 million due to the lower income tax rate.  At December 30, 2018 the Company has completed its analysis of the Tax Act.  See “Items Impacting Comparability” and “Note 17” for additional information. Our net deferred income tax liability was approximately $7.1 million at December 30, 2018. 

 

Tax authorities periodically audit the Company. We record reserves and related interest and penalties for identified exposures as income tax expense. We evaluate these issues and adjust for events, such as statute of limitations expirations, court rulings or audit settlements, which may impact our ultimate payment for such exposures. We recognized decreases in income tax expense of $1.7 million and $729,000 in 2017 and 2016, respectively, associated with the finalization of certain income tax matters.  There were no amounts recognized in 2018 as there were no related events. See “Note 17” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” for additional information.    

 

Fiscal Year

 

Our fiscal year ends on the last Sunday in December of each year. All fiscal years presented in the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements consist of 52 weeks except for the 2017 fiscal year, which consists of 53 weeks.

 

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Items Impacting Comparability; Non-GAAP Measures

 

The below table reconciles our GAAP financial results to our adjusted (non-GAAP) financial results, excluding identified “Special items,” as detailed below.  We present these non-GAAP measures because we believe the Special items impact the comparability of our results of operations. Additionally, the impact of the Company’s 53 week fiscal year in 2017 as compared to 52 weeks in 2018 and 2016 is highlighted below.  For additional information about the special items, see “Note 2”, “Note 9”, “Note 17” and “Note 19” of “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements,” respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year Ended